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

Alexandra Ma

Richard Drew/AP, New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP

  • Guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Jeffrey Epstein was detained and died, pressured his former cellmate not to discuss it, the cellmate's lawyer said.

  • The attorney Bruce Barket said his client Nicholas Tartaglione was 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 also complained more generally about conditions in the jail that he said were "deplorable."

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Jeffrey Epstein's jail guards warned his former cellmate that "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.

The lawyer, Bruce Barket, said his client Nicholas Tartaglione was 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 on Tuesday to Kenneth Karas, a federal judge in White Plains, New York.

epstein jail

The letter was published in part by outlets including the New York PostFox Newsthe Daily Mail, and the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.

Epstein did not have a cellmate when he killed himself at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan on August 10. But he was in a cell with Tartaglione earlier in his detention.

Here's what Barket wrote in his letter, according to the reports:

"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 did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for confirmation and a copy of the letter.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment on Barket's allegations that the guards threatened his client.

jeffrey epstein jail

Associated Press/Bebeto Matthews

Tartaglione, a former police officer who's been charged with killing four people, shared a cell with Epstein when the financier was found unresponsive with marks on his neck on July 23, suggesting he had attempted suicide.

Epstein was moved to suicide watch shortly after, though multiple sources have said 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.

He said there was a "serious" rodent and insect infestation, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News and Fox News reported.

The lawyer added that Tartaglione was forced to drink from a sink with mold on it and was 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 “the stick,” a wooden pole with a sharpened blade at the end that’s used to cut down inmates if they try to hang themselves with bedsheets, which is how Jeffrey Epstein is believed to have died. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Associated Press

His 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 might have encountered standing water with 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 described the conditions at the jail as "medieval" after his suicide and said they would launch an "independent and complete" investigation into his death.

The Metropolitan Correctional Center did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment on Barket's remarks about the conditions.

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