ORANGE COUNTY, NY. — A retired police officer allegedly caught in a drug deal gone bad was charged with quadruple murder in Orange County, New York, on Monday.
Four bodies were found Tuesday buried on property belonging to Nicholas Tartaglione, the former officer, according to the Chester Police Department. The property is about an hour north of New York City.
The bodies have not been identified, but are believed to be the four people, last seen in April, whom Tartaglione is accused of killing, authorities say.
Tartaglione, 49, pleaded not guilty to a five-count indictment charging him with the four murders and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, according to US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office. The former upstate New York police officer could face life in prison if found guilty.
Tartaglione’s attorney, Mark DeMarco, could not be reached for comment.
Officials said the killings and distribution of cocaine took place around the local Chester bar, Likquid Lounge.
“This unspeakable crime shows how destructive the drug trade is and why we must all endeavor to continue the fight. This scourge is not limited to large urban areas, but small rural ones as well. I hope the victims’ families can find some peace and closure as a result of this arrest,” Chester Police Department Chief Peter Graziano said.
Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hector Gutierrez are the missing victims of the cocaine conspiracy, officials said. They have not been seen or heard from since April 11.
Some of the men were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, according to a US Attorney’s Office statement.
“While all murders tear at the fabric of our communities, when the alleged perpetrator of a gangland-style, quadruple homicide is a former police officer, that strikes at the heart of civilized society,” Bharara said in the statement.
Tartaglione is due in court for an initial conference January 5.