A former Oklahoma zookeeper sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws has formally requested a pardon.
Attorneys for Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” filed his application Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Justice. In it, attorneys for Maldonado-Passage, 57, say he maintains his innocence and that he was “railroaded and betrayed” by others.
“Joseph is scheduled to be released from (Bureau of Prisons) custody in 2037; however, with his comprised health, he will likely die in prison," attorneys wrote in the 257-page application. “He humbly requests a pardon to correct the injustices he has experienced and to have the opportunity to return to providing meaningful contributions to his community."
'Tiger King' Coverage
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The application also includes several character affidavits, letters of support and various trial documents. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said it would be premature to comment on the application.
Maldonado-Passage was convicted last year of trying to arrange the killing of a Florida animal sanctuary founder, Carole Baskin, who criticized his treatment of animals. Baskin wasn't harmed. Maldonado-Passage also was convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.
The blond mullet-wearing zookeeper, known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and a failed 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial campaign, is prominently featured in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”
Maldonado-Passage is currently housed at the Federal Medical Center, a 1,500-inmate facility in Fort Worth, Texas, prison records show.