POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, says he is in the Pottawatomie County Detention Center awaiting his resentencing in federal court.
“I am now at the Pottawatomie County Jail in Oklahoma awaiting my resentencing hearing at 10am on Friday in Oklahoma City,” Maldonado-Passage said through his @joe_exotic Twitter account.
U.S. District Judge Scott Palk scheduled the resentencing for 10 a.m. Jan. 28 earlier this month and granted Maldonado-Passage’s request to be transported to Oklahoma City for the hearing.
Maldonado-Passage, the controversial former big cat zoo owner who is better known as “Tiger King”, is serving a 22-year prison sentence for a murder-for-hire conviction – having attempted to hire two different men to kill his rival, big cat activist Carole Baskin – as well as federal wildlife charges related to killing and selling tigers.
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.
In July, a federal court found that the trial court wrongly treated Maldonado-Passage’s two convictions separately in calculating his prison term. The federal judge said the convictions should have been treated as one during sentencing.
The court should have calculated his advisory sentencing range to be between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison, according to the ruling.
The federal court ordered the trial court to re-sentence Maldonado-Passage.
Maldonado-Passage, 58, was transferred from the Fort Worth Federal Medical Center to the Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina on Nov. 17, upon being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He delayed radiation treatment so he could receive an earlier resentencing hearing.
Maldonado-Passage, who once owned the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, 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.”
The intended target of the hit was Baskin, a chief critic of Maldonado-Passage. Baskin successfully sued Maldonado-Passage for trademark infringement in 2011, 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 wanting Baskin dead.
Maldonado-Passage was found guilty on all counts in 2019.