Bruce Barket, an attorney for Tartaglione, said Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) guards told his client to "shut up," "stop talking" and "stop complaining," in his letter to White Plains federal Judge Kenneth Karas.
"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," Barket wrote. "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."
Tartaglione, 51, convicted for several drug-related slayings, shared a cell with Epstein at the Lower Manhattan detention facility during what was believed to be Epstein's first suicide attempt on July 23. He was later transferred out of the cell in the facility's Special Housing Unit sometime later.
“The day before Epstein’s suicide, Tartaglione was told by [the Bureau of Prisons] that he would not be facing any charges from DOJ or MCC related to Epstein’s July 23rd incident," Barket told Fox News.
Epstein was a key defendant in a high-profile case of paedophilia and an underage sex trafficking scheme. The late 66-year-old financier was also close with numerous famous personalities and politicians. This fact spurred numerous conspiracy theories regarding Epstein's demise, suggesting that it could have been more than just a suicide, since his testimony could allegedly hurt powerful people who may have used the accused sex trafficker's services.
These theories were further fuelled by numerous media reports suggesting that the New York prison was heavily understaffed and that the guards were not checking up on Epstein as often as they should have been according to the rules. The financier’s apparent suicide comes weeks after making another such attempt, something that led to him being put on suicide watch. However, media reports suggest that the measure was lifted six days after being imposed.
"The continuing and seemingly unresolvable problems with the conditions of Mr Tartaglione’s confinement coupled with the unfortunate attempted suicide by a cellmate, to which Mr. Tartaglione is a critical witness, and the successful suicide of that same person makes his continued detention at the MCC inappropriate," Barket’s letter to Karas said.
Barket also outlined that the facility had rodent infestation problems and water leaks, and that his client faced long visitor wait times and lacked access to regular showers. He asked that Tartaglione be moved to any number of nearby detention facilities.