GRADY COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) — The “Tiger King” is once again seeking a presidential pardon, saying he is showing signs of cancer but that he doesn’t want “anyone’s pity.”
In January 2020, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic,” was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for violating federal wildlife laws and for his role in a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting his chief rival, Carole Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue, a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Tampa.
Then in January 2021, he was confident he would receive a pardon from former President Donald Trump.
However, that pardon never came.
Now, Maldonado-Passage, the former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, says his lawyer, John Phillips, is working on a new pardon from President Joe Biden.
“John Phillips has received my medical records from (Federal Medical Center) Fort Worth and my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer. The prison has approved testing to verify what stage it is in,” Maldonado-Passage posted on Twitter. “My body is tired, I have lost a tremendous amount of weight, the mouth sores are out of control, I throw up more than I eat.”
In 2018, Maldonado-Passage was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of murder-for-hire.
Prosecutors say Maldonado-Passage gave a person $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to Florida to carry out the murder of Baskin and “allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the deed,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.
A grand jury also indicted Maldonado-Passage on an additional 19 counts of wildlife charges, including the violation of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act.
Prosecutors say he shot and killed five tigers in October 2017 to make room in cages for other big cats, and sold tiger cubs to raise money.
He was also accused of falsifying records relating to the tigers, lions and a baby lemur which were purportedly being donated or transported for exhibition, but were actually sold.
Officials offered evidence in the form of recordings of Maldonado-Passage negotiating the hiring of an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a hitman. When talking about payment, Maldonado-Passage reportedly said, “I’ll just sell a bunch of tigers.”
Baskin, a chief critic of Maldonado-Passage, was not harmed. In 2011, she successfully sued Maldonado-Passage for trademark infringement and was outspoken about the treatment of animals at the park.
The defense claimed their client was framed. They say he was all talk and had no intention of having Baskin killed.
Maldonado-Passage was found guilty on all counts in 2019. Officials say he was sentenced to nine years in prison for each of the murder-for-hire convictions and four years for the wildlife violations.
As Maldonado-Passage again seeks a presidential pardon, he says he doesn’t want “anyone’s pity.”
“What I need is when John Phillips gets the evidence he is working on, I need the world to help him get President Biden, VP (Kamala) Harris and the Attorney General to listen to the evidence and see that it’s not just city cops out of control with corruption, but his very own Department of Justice and make this right and sign that pardon that Trump left behind so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food,” he tweeted.
He added, “Thank you for all the love and support from all over the world. I love you all. Wish me luck.”
Maldonado-Passage said he has an appointment with an oncologist later this month, where a biopsy will be performed.