Exclusive: Ex-Westchester police officer convicted in deaths of 4 men breaks his silence ahead of sentencing

Nicholas Tartaglione spoke with News 12 on Thursday from inside the Manhattan Correctional Center, one day after U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas ruled Tartaglione’s sentencing will proceed as planned in White Plains Federal Court on Monday.

Blaise Gomez

Jun 6, 2024, 9:09 PM

Updated 6 days ago

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A former Westchester police officer facing back-to-back life sentences for orchestrating the deaths of four men in Orange County is breaking his silence in a first-ever interview since his arrest, just days before his sentencing.
Nicholas Tartaglione spoke with News 12 on Thursday from inside the Manhattan Correctional Center, one day after U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas ruled Tartaglione’s sentencing will proceed as planned in White Plains Federal Court on Monday. Tartaglione, and his new defense team led by Inga Parsons, requested a postponement during an appeal for a new trial citing alleged problems with Tartaglione’s former attorney, doctored evidence and perjury from witnesses who testified against him.
He now hopes publicly sharing his side will alter the outcome of his fate.
“I didn’t do this. I am innocent, and I have the evidence to get me home,” says Tartaglione.
The former Briarcliff Manor K-9 police officer has spent the last eight years behind bars during the court proceedings for the 2016 murders of migrants Martin Luna, his nephews Miguel Luna and Urbano Santiago, and family friend Hector Gutierrez. Tartaglione was convicted by a jury last year.
“I’m a cop in prison for crimes I didn’t do,” Tartaglione says. “I was running an animal rescue organization. That’s who I am.”
Federal prosecutors, however, say Tartaglione planned the killings with accomplices Marcos Cruz, Gerard Bederoth, Joseph Biggs and Jason Sullivan. Bederoth died by suicide shortly after Tartaglione’s arrest.
“The only involvement I had in this was Marcos [Cruz] and Martin [Luna] asked me if I knew anybody that could help them find somebody that stole money. I said, ‘Yes, here’s this guy,’ and I gave them Benderoth’s number and Biggs' number.”
Authorities say the slayings stemmed from soured plans to start a cocaine dealing business with Luna, who they say Tartaglione believed stole $250,000.
Tartaglione was convicted of orchestrating the deaths of all four men, strangling one victim at his brother’s bar in Chester and shooting another execution-style at his property in Mount Hope - where the men were found buried by the FBI with the help of Cruz.
Tartaglione alleges Cruz, his former employee-turned-federal witness, is the real killer and claims Cruz rented the bar for a party the day of the murders. He says Cruz had full access to Tartaglione’s 170-acre property used to house rescued animals.
“The truth will come out. If the jury was able to see what we have, I’d be home right now,” says Tartaglione.
Cruz was sentenced to time served as the least culpable of three cooperating witnesses.
Tartaglione says his former attorney didn’t present evidence that would show his innocence and claims he failed to question alleged issues with the prosecution’s evidence, including an allegedly altered video where Cruz talked to police about who was present at the bar during the killings.
“The video is completely inconsistent with some mechanical malfunction,” Tartaglione’s attorney, Inga Parsons, said in a recent letter to the court. “It’s muted and footage is spliced/deleted.”
News 12 reached out to Tartaglione’s former attorney, Bruce Barket, for comment but didn’t immediately receive a response.
Prosecutors, meantime, are calling for Tartaglione to serve four consecutive life sentences. In doing so, they said his conduct “ranks among the most horrific, vile crimes imaginable.”


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