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Epstein's jail guards warned his cellmate 'there will be a price to pay' if he talks about Epstein's suicide, lawyer claims

Business Insider | Aug 21, 2019, 03.34PM IST

epstein jail

  • Guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Jeffrey Epstein was detained and died, pressured his former cellmate not to discuss it, according to his lawyer.
  • Attorney Bruce Barket described his client - murder suspect Nicholas Tartaglione - being told to "shut up" and "stop talking" about the Epstein case.
  • When Epstein died by suicide he was alone. But he had a cellmate earlier in his detention.
  • Barket complained more generally about conditions in the jail, which he said are "deplorable."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Jeffrey Epstein's jail guards warned his cellmate "there will be a price to pay" if he spoke out about the jail conditions and the financier's suicide, the cellmate's lawyer said in a letter.

Nicholas Tartaglione, the cellmate, and his lawyer Bruce Barket were told to "'shut up,' 'stop talking' and 'stop complaining' to name a few of the comments various guards have made," Barket said in a letter filed on Tuesday to federal judge Kenneth Karas at White Plains, New York.

The letter has been published in part by outlets including the New York Post, Fox News, DailyMail.com, and Rockland/Westchester Journal News.

Epstein did not have a cellmate when he killed himself on Saturday August 10. An autopsy said he hanged himself with a bed sheet. But he was in a cell with Tartaglione earlier in his detention.

Here's what Barket wrote in his letter, published Tuesday:

"The clear message Mr. Tartaglione has received is that if he conveys information about the facility or about the recent suicide, there will be a price to pay.

"Whether or not the investigators into the suicide chose to interview Mr. Tartaglione about the attempted suicide to which he was witness or about how the facility is run and the conditions under which the inmates are forced to live, the correction officers know he has information potentially very damaging to the very people now charged with guarding him or their coworkers."

Barket's law firm has yet not responded to Business Insider's request for confirmation and a copy of the letter.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center has not responded to Business Insider's request for comment on Barket's allegations of the guards' threats.

jeffrey epstein jail

Tartaglione - a former police officer who faces murder charges - shared a cell with Epstein at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center when the financier was found unresponsive with marks on his neck on July 23, which suggested he had attempted suicide.

Epstein was moved to suicide watch shortly after, though multiple sources have said that he was not on suicide watch at the time of his death.

Read more: Jeffrey Epstein died by apparent suicide in jail. Here's how the prison system makes that possible.

FILE PHOTO: Security personnel and people are seen at the entrance of the Metropolitan Correctional Center jail where financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

'Deplorable' prison conditions

Barket has asked the court to move Tartaglione to another detention facility, citing "deplorable" prison conditions.

There is a "serious" rodent and insect infestation, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News and Fox News both reported Barket as saying.

The lawyer added that that Tartaglione is forced to drink from a sink with mold on it, and that he is not allowed to shower regularly or go outside, the outlets reported.

FILE - This Aug. 13, 2019, file photo, shows the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. Suicide is such a constant concern at federal lockups such as the Metropolitan Correctional Center's Special Housing Unit that guards keep ready access to

This account is similar to a New York Times report that said, citing lawyers and other prison inmates, that Epstein's cell was cramped, musty, and likely infested with vermin.

The Times said Epstein may have encountered standing water with overflowing urine and feces from the facility's faulty plumbing.

The financier paid for lawyers to spend up to 12 hours sitting with him a private meeting room to avoid spending time in his cell, the Times reported.

Read more: Epstein's last days were spent emptying vending machines with his lawyers in a private meeting room, avoiding suicide watch, and paying other inmates' commissaries

Epstein's legal team slammed the "medieval conditions at the MCC" after Epstein's suicide and said they would launch their own "independent and complete" investigation into the death.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center has not responded to Business Insider's request for comment on Barket's remarks on the conditions.

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