More than a year after he died in a New York prison cell, Jeffrey Epstein's crimes and his relationships with powerful men around the world continue to fascinate.
He was found dead, aged 66, in his cell on the morning of 11 August 2019 and almost immediately conspiracy theories began circulating.
Epstein was found hanging in his cell but an autopsy found his hyoid bone had been broken. Although the bone sometimes breaks in suicides by hanging, it is more common in cases of strangulation.
24. #JeffreyEpstein's former cellmate, ex-cop Nicholas #Tartaglione, has had his lawyers ask that a judge move him to a new prison after he says prison guards told him that there would be a "price to pay" if he talks about #Epstein's death. https://t.co/SJ2kUI0yS6 pic.twitter.com/1TiORmzs4p— DocRock1007 🇺🇸 (@DocRock1007) August 21, 2019
Attention automatically focused on his former cellmate Nicholas Tartaglione, 49, a retired New York police officer and steroid-taking bodybuilder.
Several newspapers highlighted the fact that Tartaglione - who was awaiting trial on murder charges - had been accused of strangling one of his victims with a zip tie.
But a year on Tartaglione still has not gone on trial and questions are being asked about whether a plea deal is being negotiated behind closed doors.
So who was Nicholas Tartaglione and what has he been accused of?
Tartaglione was a cop in Mount Vernon, on the outskirts of New York City, before joining the police department in Briarcliff Manor, an affluent town 10 miles north of the city in 1996.
The local news website, Lohud, said he was accused of perjury in 1999 and suspended from his job but successfully sued to get his job back in 2003 with US$320,000 in back pay and eventually retired on disability in 2008 with a tax-free pension of US$65,000.
Briarcliff Manor Police Department later paid out US$1.1 million to cable TV host Clay Tiffany, who accused Tartaglione of beating and harassing him, while on duty, on several occasions.
Every time I see someone on here questioning why Barr hasn’t been seen lately, I think check around where Ghislaine Maxwell is being held. For all those who don’t remember, Barr visited Epstein 1-2 days before he got “suicided”.— soxfan4 (@wsoxfnjoe1) October 22, 2020
After retiring from the police force Tartaglione reportedly became involved in dealing cocaine but in early 2016 a deal went wrong.
On 11 April 2016 Tartaglione and several associates invited Martin Luna, 41, to the Likquid Lounge bar in the town of Chester, New York to discuss what had gone wrong.
Luna decided to bring along his nephew Miguel, 25, his niece’s boyfriend Urbano Santiago, 32, and a family friend Hector Gutierrez, 43.
Prosecutors claim Luna was hit over the head and then strangled by Tartaglione with a zip tie.
Tartaglione’s associate, Joe Biggs, took the other three men, along with Luna’s body, to a property Tartaglione rented in Otisville where they were shot dead.
When the bodies were discovered in December 2016 Tartaglione was arrested and charged with the murders and conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
In March 2019 prosecutors said they would be seeking the death penalty for Tartaglione.
New York state has not executed anyone since 1963 but the death penalty is still on the statute books.
The 2 most clever parts of the Epstein Murder Plot:— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) January 15, 2020
1. Choosing Nicholas Tartaglione as Epsteins cell mate.
- Then moving him hours before the "event"
- Then giving him the key to Epstein's cell.
Any DNA evidence would be from a recent cell mate and therefore inapplicable.
Then in July 2019 Tartaglione had a new cellmate - Jeffrey Epstein.
On 23 July Epstein suffered a neck injury after allegedly being assaulted by Tartaglione, who was then transferred to another cell.
At 1.30am on 11 August Epstein was found dead.
In December 2019 the US Attorney’s Office announced that a video tape from the cell showing the events of 23 July had been erased by mistake after staff at the jail “inadvertently preserved video from the wrong tier.”
#BREAKING: #Epstein former cellmate is asking the court to investigate the circumstances of the destruction of the #MCC video footage from the night of his first attempt to commit suicide. #Tartaglione wants to determine if it was “deliberate or reckless”. #JeffreyEpstein pic.twitter.com/lDnZt45Vv6— Marta Dhanis (@MartaDhanis) January 14, 2020
In February this year the Yonkers Times newspaper reported Tartaglione’s attorney, Bruce Barket, had filed a motion calling for an investigation to determine how the video had been erased and claimed it would have proved Tartaglione acted “appropriately” during a suicide attempt and had not harmed Epstein.
Last November federal prosecutors - who incidently include Maurene Comey, the daughter of former FBI director James Comey - asked for Tartaglione's trial to begin in September 2020 but, on 23 October 2020, there is no sign of him coming to trial any time soon.
Lawyers in the case are due back in court in December for another hearing.