‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic ready to be sentenced again in Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge is expected to decide Friday on a new sentence for “Tiger King” Joe Exotic after an appeals court ruled last year that the prison sentence he is serving for murder-for-hire be shortened.

Although supporters of Joe Exotic – whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage – are calling for his release from prison, that’s unlikely because federal guidelines suggest a sentence of 17½ to 22 years in prison.

Maldonado-Passage was scheduled to attend Friday’s sentencing in Oklahoma City after a judge approved his transfer from a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina. Lawyers for the former Oklahoma zookeeper said last month he was delaying treatment for prostate cancer until after his conviction.

The former zookeeper was 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 because 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 resounding success 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 them. , wrote US Attorney Robert Troester.

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Bleeding reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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