‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic sentenced to 21 years in prison

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A federal judge sentenced “Tiger King” Joe Exotic to 21 years in prison on Friday, denying the former zookeeper’s requests to release him from prison.

Joe Exotic – whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage – has been convicted in a murder-for-hire case involving animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. The two were featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

Maldonado-Passage was re-sentenced after a federal appeals court ruled last year that improper sentencing guidelines were used.

Prosecutors say Maldonado-Passage tried to hire two people — including an undercover FBI agent — to kill Baskin, who had criticized his treatment of animals. But Maldonado-Passage’s lawyers said he wasn’t serious. Baskin attended the sentencing in Oklahoma City.

Last month, lawyers said Maldonado-Passage was delaying treatment for prostate cancer until his sentencing.

In this August 2013 file photo, Joseph Maldonado-Passage answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. Also known as “Tiger King” and “Joe Exotic”, he was sentenced on Friday after a jury convicted him. in a murder-for-hire plot involving her main rival, Carole Baskin.

Sue Ogrocki/AP

The former zookeeper was originally sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of trying to hire two different men to kill animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction when determining the sentence, as they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin. , which runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida and had criticized Maldonado-Passage’s treatment of animals.

The two were featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The show was a smash hit as people were forced to stay home in the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prosecutors said Maldonado-Passage offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin in a taped meeting in December 2017. In the recording, he told the agent, “Just like following her in a mall parking lot and just style her and leave.” Lawyers for Maldonado-Passage said their client — who once operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about 105 miles south of Oklahoma City — wasn’t serious.

Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, was also found guilty of killing five tigers, selling cubs and falsifying wildlife records. His lawyers are asking for a lesser sentence than the guidelines call for, alleging “imperfect entrapment, sentencing manipulation and outrageous government conduct.”

“From decisions made early in the investigation to charging decisions to overzealous sentencing recommendations, one thing remains clear: This case was about doing whatever it took to put Mr. Maldonado-Passage behind the bars as long as possible”, his lawyers. written in a sentencing memorandum.

Federal prosecutors said in court records that they would postpone recommending a new sentence for Maldonado-Passage because of the allegations he raised.

“In the unlikely event that any of these allegations stand up to scrutiny and are ultimately found to be credible, these developments could impact the U.S.’s ultimate sentencing recommendation,” as prosecutors are obligated to investigate. on them, wrote U.S. Attorney Robert Troester.

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Bleeding reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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