Jeffrey Epstein apparently feared his prison cellmate, a former police officer who was transferred out of the cell before the billionaire financier took his own life on Saturday morning.
Nicholas Tartaglione, a former Westchester County, N.Y. police officer who shared the cell with the convicted sex offender at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, was questioned after Epstein’s attempted suicide last month but maintained that he did not see anything or touch Epstein.
But reports indicate that the two experienced some friction while they were cellmates, and an official noted that Epstein, who was 66, feared the ex-cop who is facing the death penalty on federal murder and drug charges, Fox News reported.
The 51-year-old former Briarcliffe Manor officer, who was charged in 2016 with the deaths of four men, was reportedly transferred out of Epstein’s cell in the center’s Special Housing Unit at some point before he died, The Washington Post reported, though it was not clear why.
And while it was reported that Epsetin’s cellmate was moved on Friday just hours before the disgraced billionaire hanged himself, it was not confirmed that the inmate was Tartaglione.
That cellmate “was transferred on Friday, and — for reasons that investigators are still exploring — he did not receive a new cellmate, the person familiar with the matter said Sunday night,” the Post reported. “That left Epstein, who had previously been placed on suicide watch, alone and unmonitored — at least in the hours before his death — by even those officers assigned to guard him.”
Epstein, who was being held without bail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, was apparently taken off of suicide watch after daily psychiatric evaluations. The evaluations followed his failed attempt to take his own life in July. Initial reports of his death sparked immediate questions about how prison personnel failed to prevent the suicide if, indeed, he was under 24-hour watch.
Later reports indicated that Epstein had been taken off the extra supervision after a week of the evaluations.
According to Fox News:
Though a suicide attempt was suspected of causing the injuries, sources at the time told WNBC that authorities hadn’t ruled out an assault on Epstein, and an inmate, identified as Tartaglione, was questioned about the incident.
Tartaglione reportedly told officials he didn’t see anything related to the apparent suicide attempt and maintained he didn’t touch Epstein. Bruce Barket, an attorney for the former cop, said the two men were “in the same unit and doing well,” adding rumors Tartaglione may have attacked Epstein are “absolutely not true.”
“Any suggestion that Mr. Tartaglione assaulted anyone is a complete fabrication,” Barket said in a statement.
“This story is being leaked to retaliate against Mr. Tartaglione for complaining to the court about the deplorable conditions at the MCC,” he said, adding that someone may have been “trying to embarrass Epstein and cast some shade on Nick.”
But the national president of the Council of Prison Locals C-33, E.O. Young, told the Post that Epstein may have been afraid of his cellmate, who was allegedly involved in the kidnapping and killing of four men in 2016. Tartaglione needed reconstructive surgery for a fractured eye socket bone after he was assaulted at MCC in 2018.
Meanwhile, a former inmate at the corrections facility did not think there was any way Epstein could have died by suicide.
“I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility,” the unnamed former inmate said. “Between the floor and the ceiling is like eight or nine feet. There’s no way for you to connect to anything. You have sheets, but they’re paper level, not strong enough. He was 200 pounds — it would never happen.”
Autopsy results have not yet been released on Epstein “pending further information at this time,” according to Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson.
Canary was singing? No video in Epstein’s cell, guards working extreme OT, cellmate transferred out https://t.co/dQTfrjvSS8
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 12, 2019
This comes as reports have revealed that there was no video inside Epstein’s cell and that guards at the MCC had been working extreme overtime shifts.
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