An ex-cop facing the death penalty who briefly shared a cell with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein asked a judge Tuesday to move him to a new facility, claiming guards threatened him inside a New York federal lockup.
Bruce Barket, an attorney for Nicholas Tartaglione, cited comments from Metropolitan Correction Center (MCC) guards telling 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."
The 51-year-old Tartaglione, convicted for several drug-related slayings, shared a cell with Epstein, 66, at the Lower Manhattan detention facility during what was believed to be Epstein's first suicide attempt on July 23. He was 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.
"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," his letter to Karas said.
Aside from alleged harassment from MCC staff, Barket said 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.
"The conditions at MCC have largely remained constant and deplorable for the entire time Mr. Tartaglione has been detained there," he said. "There remains a serious rodent and insect infestation problem. There is mold on the sink in his cell from which he is forced to drink from."
Barket asked that Tartaglione be moved to any number of nearby detention facilities. The former Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., police officer was charged in 2016 with the drug-related deaths of four men in an alleged cocaine drug conspiracy.
A little over two weeks before his death, Epstein was placed on suicide watch after he was found with bruising on his neck.
A law enforcement source told the New York Daily News that Tartaglione claimed he helped Epstein when he found him unconscious in his cell after his first suicide attempt.
Epstein was taken off suicide watch before he died but it was not clear when, a source familiar with the matter told Fox News. His death has led to questions over how a high-profile prisoner could kill himself under the nose of guards.
Fox News' Nicole Darrah and Tamara Gitt contributed to this report.