Security guard charged in connection with Chester quadruple homicide

| 08 Jun 2017 | 05:19

— A school security guard from Westchester County has been charged in connection with the murder of four men at the Chester Likquid Lounge on Brookside Avenue in April 2016.
Joseph Biggs, 55, of Nanuet, along with Nicholas Tartaglione, 49, of Otisville, allegedly kidnapped and murdered four men from Middletown as part of a larger conspiracy to sell at least five kilograms of cocaine, according to the 17-count indictment released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York. The four victims were Martin Sosa-Luna, 41, Urbano Morales-Santiago, 32, Miguel Sosa-Luna, 25, and Hector Gutierrez, 43.
Biggs was a school security officer at a school in Hastings-on-Hudson. He was arrested on June 1.
Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, was arrested in December 2016 for allegedly conspiring to sell the cocaine and for the four murders, but is now facing firearms and kidnapping charges, according to the new indictment.
“Murders are always frightening,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim in a statement. "But when allegedly committed by people entrusted with the safety of others, it is all the more disturbing.”
The allegations are as follows: after conspiring to sell cocaine from at least June 2015 up to April 2016, Biggs and Tartaglione lured Martin Sosa-Luna, under false pretenses, to the Likquid Lounge, where he was held captive and killed. The other three victims — Morales-Santiago, Miguel Sosa-Luna, and Gutierrez — accompanied Martin Sosa-Luna to the bar, where they were held captive, shot, and killed. The indictment does not state Martin Sosa-Luna’s cause of death.
The four victims had not been seen or heard from since April 18, 2016, the day of their murder, according to Tartaglione’s first indictment, stating that some of the victims “were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The day after Tartaglione’s arrest in December, the bodies of the four victims were recovered from a 148.9-acre farm property on Old Mountain Road in Otisville owned by Tartaglione, according to the Village of Chester police. It was eight months after the men’s disappearance.
The case has been investigated by the FBI, state police, and Village of Chester police. Calls to Village of Chester Police Chief Peter J. Graziano Jr. were not returned by press time.
According to district court filings, federal prosecutors received autopsy reports from the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office regarding the four victims on March 22. The autopsy results showed that three of the victims were found to have been killed by gunshot wounds to the head, while the fourth victim was found to be killed by “homicidal violence of undetermined etiology.”
Defense attorneys twice denied consent to release the victims’ bodies for burial, citing possible plans to conduct a second autopsy. After federal prosecutors asked the judge for permission to release them, defense attorney Bruce Barket wrote to the court on May 16, 2016, that they had resolved their differences and would release the victims’ bodies to their respective families, more than a year after the men disappeared.
Inactive liquor licenseMichael Tartaglione, Nicholas Tartaglione’s brother, owned the Likquid Lounge and is still listed as the principal liquor licence holder for the establishment. The license is currently listed as inactive.
According to the Likquid Lounge’s Facebook page, the bar is now called Luxe Lounge 845 and is under new management. A May 31, 2017, post states that the bar will be reopening soon and is looking for bartenders, DJs, and wait staff.
Emails and calls to the Luxe Lounge 845 were not returned by press time.
The maximum penalty for each of the 17 charges against both Biggs and Nicholas Tartaglione are life in prison, but both could face the death penalty if convicted.
Biggs has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Calls to David I. Goldstein, the attorney for Joseph Biggs, were not returned by press time.
Nicholas Tartaglione pleaded not guilty to the first five-count indictment in December 2016.
He is scheduled to appear in court on June 7 as this paper goes to press. Bruce Barket, an attorney for Nicholas Tartaglione, said on Tuesday that Tartaglione plans to plead not guilty to the 17 charges in the new indictment.