Wednesday, a former NYPD officer committed suicide in front of FBI agents. They were investigating his connection in a quadruple murder. According to friends and court records, he was drowning in debt and had been battling depression since 9/11.
FBI agents pulled 48-year-old Gerard Benderoth over on Rockland Country road. The agents were probing into his ties to another cop in upstate New York who had been charged with the execution of four men in a bad drug deal. During the stop, Benderoth shot himself in the head.
According to Daily News, documents show that Benderoth and Amy, his wife, were facing foreclosure from the Stony Point home. They hadn’t made a mortgage payment since June 2014, and owed $349,901 to Citizens Bank because of it.
Benderoth was one of the first responder’s on 9/11 at Ground Zero. Albert Thompson, a friend of his, told the press that Benderoth never got over the trauma he suffered from the 9/11 attacks and everything he went through that day. His long-time steroid use didn’t help matters any.
The bank’s lawyers filed papers seeking a default judgment against the Benderoths after filing suit in 2015.
The couple bought the brick-and-siding ranch house in 2010 for $310,000. They lived there with their four kids.
“You are in danger of losing your home,” read a warning in one of the bank’s court motions.
Benderoth — a former world-class strongman competitor nicknamed “White Rhino” — also had other problems.
His friend Albert Thompson told The News that Benderoth was a longtime steroid user who never got over the trauma of the 9/11 attacks.
Benderoth was a Ground Zero first responder who left the NYPD in 2005 for the Haverstraw police department.
“The last time I talked with him, a year ago, he was not good. He suffered from 9/11 related depression,” said Thompson, a Philadelphia-based sports writer who knew Benderoth through his years competing in strongman competitions.
“He went to the Haverstraw Police Department because of the trauma. He couldn’t be a cop in New York.”
Thompson said his efforts to get Benderoth help were complicated by his reputation — the beefy cop’s size and strengh made grown men fawn over him.
The 360-pound goliath was named the 10th strongest man in the nation in 2008, capable of lugging 450-pound stones and deadlifting 825-pound cars.
“He was revered. He was a god,” Thompson said. “It just broke my heart. I knew his life would end in some horrible way.”
Sources said the FBI was investigating Benderoth in connection with former Westchester County cop Nicholas Tartaglione, who’s accused of murdering four men at a Hudson Valley bar last April over five kilos of cocaine.
Federal prosecutors say the muscular Tartaglione, 49, then took the bodies 30 minutes north to his 178-acre farm and buried them, authorities said.
Authorities using a backhoe dug up the bodies in December after Tartaglione was arraigned in federal court.
Multiple friends of Benderoth took to social media to pay tribute to the man they described as a “gentle giant.”
“As strong as he was, his biggest muscle was his heart!” Peter Skae wrote on Facebook.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page seeking donations for the Benderoth family.
“Heaven gained an incredibly sweet gentle giant today,” it read. “Gone too soon…..leaving behind a family of five we would like to help them out with any expenses possible.”