Undercover agent posing as a hitman testifies in murder-for-hire trial against ‘Joe Exotic’

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The government's final witness in a murder-for-hire trial was an FBI agent working undercover and posing as a hitman.

The agent testified Thursday, he was contacted about the investigation into Joseph Maldonado-Passage in November 2017. He met Maldonado-Passage, better known as 'Joe Exotic', in December 2017 at the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, which the defendant once owned.

A nearly hour long audio tape secretly recording the encounter was played for the jury on Thursday. On the tape, Maldonado-Passage is heard talking about the alleged intended target Carole Baskin.

Baskin owns the Big Cat Rescue in Florida and has been in legal battles with the defendant for years.

"[She's] got to go," Maldonado-Passage said on tape.

The undercover agent stated on the tape that a murder-for-hire scheme could potentially could about $10,000 and discussed the need for a possible alibi for Maldonado-Passage if they were to go any further.

Defense attorneys say there was no evidence any money, a gun, or burner phones ever given to the the undercover agent. They also added, the idea of committing the murder or executing an alleged plan was not brought up by Maldonado-Passage on tape. Instead, they say it was primarily brought up by the informant who introduced the "hitman".

"The recording speaks for itself," said an attorney for Maldonado-Passage. His attorney claim he was never serious about going through with any plan.

The defense is expected to present its first witness on Friday morning.

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