NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The lawyer for a former police officer who has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) for 32 months awaiting a murder trial says wealthy financial advisor Jeffery Epstein, who was found injured in his cell on Tuesday, has had a difficult adjustment to his time behind bars in "deplorable" conditions.
Bruce Barket represents former Briarcliff Manor police officer Nick Tartaglione, who is awaiting a potential death penalty trial for killing four people. Tartaglione and Epstein are being held in the same Special Housing Unit (SHU) due to their notoriety.
"It's not an easy transition for anyone to make and I imagine Mr. Epstein's having a difficult time making the adjustment," Barket says.
Barket says he has spoken to Tartaglione about how Epstein was injured but would not talk about it calling it privileged information between him and his client.
He did confirm that prison officials have questioned Tartaglione about the incident and said his client did not injure Epstein and is willing to cooperate with the inquiry. He speculates that his client has been linked to Epstein's injures because he has repeatedly complained about the conditions in the jail.
"The conditions at MCC are absolutely horrible," Barket says. "I've been practicing law for over 30 years and had an opportunity to be in a number of different jails and prisons around the country and, in fact, around the world. The Metropolitan Correctional Center where Jeffery Epstein and Nick Tartaglione are kept is the worst facility I've ever been to."
Barket was at the detention center on Thursday evening to visit his client and saw Jeffery Epstein in the attorney visiting room meeting with his lawyers.
"He looked fine, gave me a nod, we see each other pretty regularly when I visit Nick," Barket said. "He's almost always in the visiting room with his attorneys, and he and Nick get along quite well."
Tartaglione has been a victim of violence in the same jail. About a year and a half ago, Barket says his client had his eye socket broken by a padlock that had been placed inside of a sock to create a weapon.
Barket says prisoners have little lockers to keep things in and the combination locks are removable.
"The facility is deplorable. It's insect infested. It's rodent infested. The food is barely edible. The medical care is nonexistent. Mail is not delivered. The clients are denied books and legal visiting is extremely difficult," Barket says.
He says that area has toilets that leak onto the floors of the cells and the ventilation is terrible.
"It is a very, very difficult place to be," Barket says. "I think when Mr. Epstein first got there it was a bit of a shell-shock for him."
Epstein is being held to face charges that he sexually abused girls as young as 14. A judge has denied bail for him after prosecutors claimed he was a flight risk.