Joseph Maldonado-Passage–better known as former Oklahoma-based zookeeper Joe Exotic–filed a lawsuit on March 17 for his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot against rival Carole Baskin. Meanwhile, he’s also been fishing for a pardon from President Donald Trump.
The plaintiff claimed he was set-up. Defendants, in particular the U.S. Department of Interior and a prosecutor who convicted him, were furthering an “animal rights agenda,” he wrote in a pro se filing obtained by Law&Crime. He accused some witnesses of making false statements in the case.
“Jeffrey L. Lowe [who currently owns the plaintiff’s former zoo] files false statements to the federal agents,” Maldonado-Passage wrote. “He was the main person in this entrapment scheme to take my zoo for FREE. Changed my medicine with illegal drugs, stole my animals under fraudulent reasons.”
“It is you the people of the world who can change what has been done,” said a post from his Facebook account. “Please keep this alive until someone reaches our President for a Pardon because its the right thing to do.”
The petition has more than 17,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
Maldonado-Passage’s case long raised eyebrows. This zookeeper was sentenced in January to 22 years in the murder-for-hire plot, illegal animal trafficking, and animal abuse case. The target–the CEO of a rival animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida–had beaten him in a trademark infringement lawsuit in 2013.
Chances are, you learned a lot about this in the new and extremely popular Netflix docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. The show covered the long, ugly rivalry of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. She tried to run him out of business, saying that his roadside zoo was unethical. For his part, Maldonado-Passage routinely engaged in hostile rants about Baskin on his online show. He said she was a hypocrite, and that she murdered one of her previous husbands and either fed him to her tigers or hid his body down in a septic tank. (It’s a whole thing; Baskin denied the allegation.)
Jeffrey Lowe’s wife Lauren told Rolling Stone they weren’t worried about the $94 million lawsuit.
“We’ve been told that a judge will not approve it because of the crimes that Joe has committed,” she said.
[Screengrab via Netflix]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]