Ex-police officer charged in quadruple murders at Likquid Lounge Four bodies found at property linked to accused killer
Photo by Erika Norton
State troopers could be seen at the Likquid Lounge in Chester Tuesday afternoon, the site of a quadruple homicide that took place in April, according to prosecutors.
BY ERIKA NORTON CHESTER — A former Briarcliff Manor police officer allegedly killed four Middletown men missing since April in the Likquid Lounge bar in Chester, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. Nicholas Tartaglione, 49, of Otisville was charged with the quadruple homicide of Martin Sosa-Luna, 41, Urbano Morales-Santiago, 32, Miguel Sosa-Luna, 25, and Hector Gutierrez, 43, and in participating in a conspiracy to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “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,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. The four victims had not been seen or heard from since April 18, the day of their alleged murder, according to prosecutors. Some of the victims “were just in the wrong place at the wrong time," prosecutors said. According to Village of Chester Police Chief Peter Graziano Jr. late Tuesday afternoon, four bodies were recovered from a farm property on Old Mountain Road in Otisville, where Tartaglione was a tenant. The bodies are being transported to the Orange County Medical Examiner's office, he said. The identities of the bodies are pending autopsies and DNA tests. According to county records, the Old Mountain Road property is 148.9 acres. Graziano said the four victims were last seen parking at the Chester Diner on April 18, according to video taken by the nearby auto body shop's surveillance camera. The camera is motion sensitive, so all the video shows is the men parking and getting out of the car. The camera turned off when the motion stopped. “That was part of the big mystery,” Graziano said, referring to the video. Investigators do not yet know how the victims died. The scene of the alleged murders is the Likquid Lounge, a bar located at 69 Brookside Avenue, in the Quickway Plaza. State troopers could be seen at the location on Tuesday afternoon. According to the New York State Liquor Authority records, Michael Tartaglione is listed as the principal name for the Likquid Lounge. It also says he is the owner of the bar on Michael’s Facebook page. Graziano confirmed that Michael Tartaglione is Nicholas Tartaglione’s bother, but while he may still be listed as the owner, they understand that the bar has recently been sold to a new owner. Graziano said he did not know the name of the new owner of the bar, and that Michael is not a person of interest in the case. “I am grateful for the hard work everyone put into this case and the cooperation of the agencies involved,” Graziano said in a statement. “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.” Mark DeMarco, a lawyer for Tartaglione, could not be reached for comment by press time. Tartaglione pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in White Plains federal court Monday. The charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine holds a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Each of the four charges of murder in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine holds a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Editor’s note: This is a developing story and has been revised. Check back for updates.