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An ex-cop and former cellmate of Jeffrey Epstein was found guilty of murdering four men.
After a three-week trial and two days of deliberations, a jury convicted Nicholas Tartaglione of murdering four Mexican immigrants in an alleged cocaine scheme. Tartaglione will be sentenced in October, when he will face life in prison.
The Journal News reported, "The murders resulted from Tartaglione suspecting Luna had stolen $200,000 from him as part of a planned cocaine purchase. Tartaglione, a bodybuilder, had been illegally selling steroids."
Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, lured Luna to the Likquid Lounge – a bar owned by Tartaglione's brother. Accompanying Luna to the meeting on April 11, 2016, were Martin's two nephews — Miguel Luna and Urbano Santiago— and a family friend — Hector Gutierrez.
"What occurred next could only be described as pure terror, as Tartaglione tortured Martin, then forced one of his nephews to watch as Tartaglione strangled Martin to death with a zip-tie," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Tartaglione's two enforcers – bodybuilder and school security guard Joseph Biggs along with former Haverstraw police officer and strongman competitor Gerard Benderoth – restrained the men at gunpoint as they watched Tartaglione kill Luna.
The three kidnapped men were taken to a remote wooded area where they were forced to kneel and were executed with gunshots to the back of the head, according to court documents. Tartaglione then buried all four murdered men in a mass grave at an Orange County farm rented by the ex-cop.
Then-federal prosecutor Preet Bharara described the murders as "gangland-style" executions.
Williams said, "Tartaglione’s heinous acts represent a broader betrayal, as he was a former police officer who once swore to protect the very community he devastated."
Biggs testified at the trial. Benderoth died by suicide when police attempted to arrest him in 2017.
Tartaglione's attorney Bruce Barket said, "Nick was disappointed. He had great hope that he'd be exonerated. As everyone knows, guilty verdicts are what proceeds every wrongful conviction reversal. So he remains hopeful that the system will one day vindicate his position, which from day one has been he's not guilty."
Tartaglione made national headlines in July 2019 for being the cellmate of Jeffrey Epstein. The convicted pedophile was found semiconscious with marks on his neck in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.
Two sources told NBC News that Epstein attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself. However, a third source said Epstein's injuries weren't very serious and may have been staged to get a transfer to another facility. A fourth source noted that Epstein may have been assaulted by Tartaglione.
On Aug. 10, Epstein died of an apparent suicide. Tartaglione was not in the cell at the time of the alleged suicide.
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Paul Sacca is a staff writer for Blaze News.