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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 1, 2017

School Security Guard Charged In White Plains Federal Court With Four Murders In Connection With Cocaine Distribution Conspiracy

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), George P. Beach II, the Superintendent of the New York State Police (“NYSP”), and Peter J. Graziano Jr., Chief of the Village of Chester Police Department (“Chester PD”), announced the arrest of JOSEPH BIGGS, a security guard at a school in Hastings-On-Hudson, New York, for a quadruple murder committed in Chester, New York in April 2016. BIGGS was charged in a 17-count Superseding Indictment, along with NICHOLAS TARTAGLIONE, a retired police officer who was previously arrested and charged in this case, for their participation in a conspiracy to distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine and for the murders of Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hector Gutierrez in furtherance of that conspiracy. The new indictment also includes firearms and kidnapping charges against both defendants in connection with the murders.

 

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “As alleged, Joseph Biggs, a school security officer, participated in the brutal drug-related kidnapping and murder of four people in a bar in Chester, New York. Biggs allegedly committed these cold-blooded crimes with Nicholas Tartaglione, a retired police officer. Murders are always frightening, but when allegedly committed by people entrusted with the safety of others, it is all the more disturbing.”

 

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. stated: “The FBI and our law enforcement partners in this investigation are following leads wherever they take us, and we will continue to search out any information that will help us solve the case. We are purposefully methodical, and careful about gathering facts and evidence, and we won’t stop until we bring to justice all of those responsible for the murders of these four men.

 

NYSP Superintendent George P. Beach II said: “I praise the work of law enforcement in bringing these two suspected men to justice. Illicit drugs can not only be fatal to their users, but the crimes that surround these illegal operations are deadly and dangerous to our communities. With these two alleged actors charged, dangerous drugs are not making it to our streets, and those streets are now safer. The State Police pledge to continue to work and partner with other law enforcement agencies. The work we are doing will make a difference in the lives of the people we serve.

 

Village of Chester Police Chief Peter J. Graziano Jr. said: “We are fortunate and humbled to be able to work with such talented people as a team in the arrest of Mr. Biggs in connection with the unspeakable and callous murder of these victims. That Mr. Bigs is alleged to be involved in a case such as this and be entrusted with the safety of children defies explanation.”

 

As alleged in the Indictment filed today in White Plains federal court[1]:

 

From at least in or about June 2015 up to and including April 2016, NICHOLAS TARTAGLIONE, JOSEPH BIGGS, and others conspired to sell five kilograms or more of cocaine. In April 2016, NICHOLAS TARTAGLIONE and JOSEPH BIGGS participated in the killing of Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hector Gutierrez in furtherance of that cocaine distribution conspiracy. Specifically, on April 11, 2016, TARTAGLIONE and BIGGS lured Martin Luna to a bar called the Likquid Lounge in Chester, New York under false pretenses, where he was held captive and killed. The other three victims – Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna, and Hector Gutierrez – accompanied Martin Luna to the bar, where they were then held captive, shot, and killed.

 

* * *

 

JOSEPH BIGGS, 55, of Nanuet, New York, was taken into federal custody this morning. BIGGS was presented in White Plains federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith McCarthy and ordered detained. His case has been assigned to United States District Judge Kenneth M. Karas. NICHOLAS TARTAGLIONE was previously arrested on December 19, 2016, and has been detained in federal custody since that date.

 

A chart containing the charges and maximum penalties the defendants face is attached. The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.

 

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI, the New York State Police, and the Village of Chester Police Department. Mr. Kim also thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for its assistance in the case.

 

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Maurene Comey and Michael Gerber are in charge of the prosecution.

 

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

 

United States v. Nicholas Tartaglione and Joseph Biggs, S3 16 Cr. 832 (KMK)

 

COUNT

CHARGES

MAXIMUM PENALTIES

1

Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Life in prison

Mandatory minimum:
10 years in prison

2

Murder of Martin Luna in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Life in prison or death

Mandatory minimum:
20 years in prison

3

Murder of Urbano Santiago in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Life in prison or death

Mandatory minimum:

20 years in prison

4

Murder of Miguel Luna in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Life in prison or death

Mandatory minimum:

20 years in prison

5

Murder of Hector Gutierrez in furtherance of a conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Life in prison or death

Mandatory minimum:

20 years in prison

6

Use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime resulting in the death of Urbano Santiago.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

10 years in prison

7

Use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime resulting in the death of Miguel Luna.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

10 years in prison

8

Use of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crime resulting in the death of Hector Gutierrez.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

10 years in prison

9

Kidnapping conspiracy.

Life in prison

10

Kidnapping resulting in the death of Martin Luna.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

Life in prison

11

Kidnapping resulting in the death of Urbano Santiago.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

Life in prison

12

Kidnapping resulting in the death of Miguel Luna.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

Life in prison

13

Kidnapping resulting in the death of Hector Gutierrez.

Life in prison or death

 

Mandatory minimum:

Life in prison

14

Travel or use of interstate facility with intent to commit crime of violence, resulting in death of Martin Luna.

Life in prison

15

Travel or use of interstate facility with intent to commit crime of violence, resulting in death of Urbano Santiago.

Life in prison

16

Travel or use of interstate facility with intent to commit crime of violence, resulting in death of Miguel Luna.

Life in prison

17

Travel or use of interstate facility with intent to commit crime of violence, resulting in death of Hector Gutierrez.

Life in prison

 

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 
17-158
Updated June 1, 2017