Nicholas Tartaglione: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Nicholas Tartaglione

Screengrab via CBS New York Nicholas Tartaglione pictured prior to his December 2016 arrest.

Nicholas Tartaglione is a former New York police officer who was questioned in relation to Jeffrey Epstein’s July 2019 “suicide attempt” after which prison guards found the disgraced financier in the “fetal position” inside of his jail cell.

On August 10, Epstein appeared to have succeeded in a suicide attempt as he pronounced dead after being found hanging in his jail cell. At the time of his death, Epstein was not on suicide watch. He was 66 years old.

In December 2016, Tartaglione, who had already left the Briarcliff Police Department, was arrested and accused of killing four men, Martin Luna, Miguel Luna, Urbano Santiago, and Hector Gutierrez, as part of a cocaine conspiracy. The victims were found inside a property in Otisville that had been rented in the past by Tartaglione. Tartaglione and Epstein are both being held at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan while awaiting trial.

On the morning of July 25, it was widely reported that Jeffrey Epstein was found injured in his jail cell in New York City after trying to hang himself. Epstein was arrested on July 6 and accused by federal authorities of sex trafficking minors in Florida and New York.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. At the Time of Writing, Epstein Is on Suicide Watch

Nicholas Tartaglione Jeffrey Epstein

Screengrab via News 12Tartaglione pictured in February 2017.

NBC New York reports that Tartaglione was questioned in relation to the incident. In addition, a source told the station that Epstein’s injuries were not serious and that the suicide attempt may have been a ruse to gain a jail transfer. At the time of writing, Epstein is on suicide watch.


2. Tartaglione’s Lawyer Said the Ex-Cop & Epstein Get on Well on Jail & Have Made Complaints About Living Conditions Recently

Jeffrey Epstein Found Injured in Manhattan in Jail Cell, Sources Say | NBC New YorkAccused pedophile and wealthy Manhattan financier Jeffrey Epstein was found injured and in a fetal position inside his cell at a New York City jail, according to sources close to the investigation. Epstein, who is being held in Metropolitan Correctional Center during his trial for conspiracy and sex trafficking, was found semi-conscious with marks on his neck, two sources told News 4. Investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened, saying details remain murky. Two sources tell News 4 that Epstein may have tried to hang himself, while a third source cautioned that the injuries were not serious and questioned if Epstein might be using it as a way to get a transfer. A fourth source said an assault has not been ruled out, and that another inmate was questioned. The inmate who investigators have talked to in Lower Manhattan facility has been identified as Nicholas Tartaglione, according to two sources. Tartaglione is a former police officer in Westchester County who was arrested in December 2016 and accused of killing four men in an alleged cocaine distribution conspiracy, then burying their bodies in his yard in Otisville in Orange County, according to court records. The attorney for Tartaglione denied all the claims that his client attacked the financier, saying his client and Epstein get along well. The attorney added Epstein was seen today and appears to be fine. NBC 4 New York on Twitter: http://4.nbcny.com/kAuuwUN NBC 4 New York on Facebook: http://4.nbcny.com/mbeh714 NBC 4 New York on Instagram: http://4.nbcny.com/g5YlkcI NBC 4 New York on Youtube: http://4.nbcny.com/iTUpy5e #BreakingNews #JeffreyEpstein #EpsteinInjured2019-07-25T04:12:46.000Z

Tartaglione has claimed innocence in the matter, according to NBC New York’s report.

His lawyer, Bruce Barket, told the station that Epstein and his client are in the same prison united and are “doing well.” Barket added that any allegations that Tartaglione had anything to do with Epstein’s injuries are “absolutely not true.” The lawyer went on to say that both Epstein and Tartaglione had recently been complaining about conditions in the jail, including issues over mice and rats, food, as well as flooding.


3. Earlier in July, Prison Guards Confiscated a Cell Phone from Tartaglione, Reports Said

Retired Cop Accused In Cocaine ConspiracyCBS2's Hazel Sanchez reports.2016-12-20T23:35:15.000Z

Tartaglione was last in the news on July 3 when Lo Hud reported that prison guards had confiscated a cell phone from him.

The ex-cop denied the phone was his and said that a fellow inmate had tossed to him during a search. While in 2018, Tartaglione’s said that the former cop had been assaulted in custody and needed surgery on a broken eye socket.


4. A Neighbor Said Tartaglione’s Property ‘Smelled of Death’ in the Lead-Up to the Discovery of 4 Bodies There

Retired NY police officer charged with killing four men in drug dealFour bodies believed to be the missing men allegedly killed by retired Briarcliff Manor cop Nicholas Tartaglione during a busted drug deal in April were recovered Tuesday on property he rented in Orange . Chester police Chief Peter Graziano confirmed the recovery and saCountyid the bodies were being taken to the county medical examiner's office for positive identification. Tartaglione, 49, was arrested Monday on drug conspiracy charges accusing him of killing the four in April. On Tuesday, state police and the FBI converged on the property on Old Mountain Road in Otisville to search for their remains. Tartaglione is charged in a five-count indictment for a conspiracy to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine and "the senseless murder" of the four men, which was part of that conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. The former cop pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment Monday. 29 use-of-force complaints on file against Delware cop, court records showa "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. Tartaglione and others had allegedly conspired to sell cocaine from June 2015 to April 2016, prosecutors said. Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez were killed in and around a bar called the Likquid Lounge in Chester as part of that drug activity, officials said. Some of them were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, officials said. The bar is run by Tartaglione's brother, Graziano said. "These four men had not been seen or heard from since the day of their alleged murder," Bharara said. "We hope that today's arrest brings some measure of comfort to the victims' families and loved ones." All four men were last seen in a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox that was believed to have been parked in the Chester Diner parking lot between 2:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on April 11, Middletown police said in the spring. A relative of Miguel Luna spoke with him by telephone at about 5 p.m. that day but there was no communication with any of the four men after that, police said. Graziano, the Chester chief, said that it is believed one or two of the victims had been involved in drug activity. He said Tartaglione had come to the attention of authorities in recent weeks and had been interviewed by federal agents. "I don't know exactly what he said; I'm not sure he admitted to anything," Graziano said. Tartaglione appeared in White Plains federal court Monday and remains in custody. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, and four counts of murder in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. The indictment superseded another one that was ordered sealed by the magistrate judge. It could not be determined whether anyone else was charged in the earlier indictment. Reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Tartaglione's lawyer declined to comment. Tartaglione was a cop in Mount Vernon and Pawling before joining the Briarcliff Manor department in 1996. He receives an annual tax-free pension of $65,000 after retiring on disability in 2008 — but he was planning to give up the pension after applying this year for a job with the Mount Vernon Police Department. He had a checkered career in Briarcliff Manor. He was suspended in 1999 following his arrest on perjury charges after Westchester prosecutors accused him of lying at a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing regarding a drunk-driving arrest he had made. Tartaglione was acquitted at trial but the village fired him on departmental charges. Tartaglione successfully sued to get his job back in 2003 with $320,000 in back pay. He claimed that authorities concocted the perjury allegation as a way to remove him from the force, but his wrongful arrest lawsuit against the village and District Attorney’s Office was dismissed. He also had a longstanding feud with Clay Tiffany, a cable television host and gadfly who accused Tartaglione of beating and harassing him on numerous occasions. Tiffany, who died last year, settled a federal lawsuit against the village and Tartaglione, receiving more than $1.1 million. In addition to his law enforcement career, Tartaglione was involved for years in animal rescue efforts, helping his parents who ran a dog-grooming business, Dapper Dog, in Nyack. He was rescuing horses and dogs on a 65-acre property he recently bought in Orange County. Category People & Blogs2016-12-27T00:39:00.000Z

On April 11, 2016, Martin Luna, Miguel Luna, Urbano Santiago, and Hector Gutierrez, went missing after last being seen entering a bar owned by Tartaglione’s brother. The bar, Likquid Lounge, in Chester, New York, was the site of Martin Luna’s murder, prosecutors say. Authorities allege that the three other men were taken to Otisville, New York, where they were shot dead.

Prosecutors described the killings of the four men as being “gangland-style,” reports the New York Times.

While the New York Daily News reports that the killings were motivated over a 5-kilo cocaine deal that went bad. A neighbor told the Daily News that in the lead up to the discovery of the dead bodies on the property in Otisville, “it smelled of death” in the area. The bodies were not discovered until eight months after the shooting.


5. Tartaglione Could Be the 1st Person Executed on Federal Crimes in New York Since 1953

The Cost of Betrayal: The Defection of Burgess & MacLean/The Execution of the Rosenbergs (2005)Days That Shook the WorldThe Cost of Betrayal examines two cases of Espionage in the Cold War era of the 1950's. The first half follows the events that surrounded Guy Burgess while the second half examines The last day of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg's life in Sing Sing Prison as they wait to be executed for espionage.2019-02-15T15:15:04.000Z

In March 2019, it was announced that prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Tartaglione. The former cop’s lawyer said at the time, “Unfortunate, despicable, unnecessary, unjust, egregious, thoughtless, pointless; those are all words that came to my mind.” Bruce Barket said that his client had taken the news of the decision “pretty well, all things considered… He’s more concerned about the time, the extra time it will take. He’s focused like we all are on the first part of the trial.”

The last execution in New York for a federal crime was the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the married couple who were found guilty of espionage in 1953. The couple was alleged to have spied on behalf of the Soviet Union.

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