HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. – A behemoth strongman and former NYPD cop commits suicide in front of FBI agents Wednesday. They were about to arrest him as part of a quadruple homicide and cocaine conspiracy, police sources told The New York Post.
Gerard Benderoth, 48 — nicknamed “White Rhino” from his days as a strongman competitor — killed himself on a quiet suburban road in Rockland County around 8:20 a.m. after feds pulled him over.
They planned to arrest him on a sealed indictment tied to a murder and drug conspiracy case, sources said.
Benderoth’s ex-cop running mate, Nicholas Tartaglione was arrested in December, charged with four counts of murder and drug conspiracy.
“If this guy put a bullet in his head rather than go and talk to them, he must have been in deep,” a law enforcement source noted to The Post.
Benderoth reportedly called his former colleagues at the Haverstraw Police Department when he saw emergency lights activate behind him.
“Why are you pulling me over?” he asked, according to sources. But police from Haverstraw told him it wasn’t them.
Sources said that Benderoth stopped his SUV and shot himself before agents were able to make it to his vehicle.
Former police officer
Benderoth retired from NYPD in 2005, and then worked a stint at Haverstraw Police Department. He was facing undisclosed charges in connection to the quadruple murder allegedly carried out by Tartaglione — a fellow bodybuilder and retired officer with the Briarcliff Manor Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s indictment of Tartaglione, 49, accuses him and unnamed conspirators of selling kilo-weight cocaine for almost a year.
In April, one drug deal turned into a bloodbath, with Tartaglione accused of killing Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez.
The men disappeared after meeting the ex-cop at a bar called the Likquid Lounge, Bharara said.
“These four men had not been seen or heard from since the day of their alleged murder,” Bharara said.
Within days of the December indictment, all four men’s bodies were recovered from Tartaglione’s rental property in Orange County, the feds said.
LET covered the story in December: ‘Burial Site’ Discovered; Former Cop Arrested.
There was a conspiracy involved in the narcotic trafficking and murders. Yet it’s unclear what role Benderoth may have played in the sordid tale.
The 300-plus-pound giant man was the son of a retired NYPD homicide detective. He spent 12 years in the department, including a three-day stint helping recover bodies at Ground Zero after 9/11.
Benderoth could be seen regularly at The World Gym in Haverstraw, where he would do 90 minutes of grueling power lifting at least once a week. Manager Joey Alonso called him a big “teddy bear.”
The big man’s strength was amazing. In 2008, he was named the 10th-strongest man in the country.
An online video from 2011 recorded him lifting 800 pounds; in 2010 he was filmed lifting 185 pounds via a one-armed “ape snatch.”
“My number one fan, and my hero, is me!” he joked in a 2012 nutritional supplement promotional video.
FBI confirmed suicide but not identity
By Wednesday afternoon, the FBI had not released Benderoth’s name, confirming only that a suicide had occurred during a traffic stop.
“While conducting a law enforcement vehicle stop this morning, FBI agents and task force officers approached a man who was the only occupant of a stopped vehicle,” a spokesperson told The Post.
“During the approach, the man drew a handgun and shot himself. He died of the self-inflicted wound.”
Family members declined comment at Benderoth’s home, where he lived with his wife, 13-year-old son, twin 6-year-old boy and girl and 2-year-old daughter.