POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (TCD) -- Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as "Joe Exotic" or the "Tiger King," will spend more than two decades in prison after this week's resentencing.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, in 2018, Maldonado-Passage, the former owner of Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, was indicted on two counts of murder-for-hire. Maldonado-Passage reportedly paid someone $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to South Carolina and then to Florida to kill Carole Baskin. He allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the murder was done.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Maldonado-Passage made the hired hitman travel to Dallas to obtain false identification to use in the murder plot. The hired person allegedly traveled to South Carolina from Oklahoma on Nov. 26, 2017.
For the second count of murder-for-hire, the U.S. Attorney's Office says that in July 2016, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly asked another unnamed person to locate someone to murder Baskin. The second person reportedly connected Maldonado-Passage with an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman, and on Dec. 8, 2017, Maldonado-Passage met with the undercover agent to discuss murder plot details.
Baskin was not physically harmed.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Maldonado-Passage was arrested in Gulf Breeze, Florida, on Sept. 7, 2018.
According to KFOR-TV, Maldonado-Passage was indicted by a grand jury on an additional 19 counts of wildlife charges, such as violation of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act. Maldonado-Passage allegedly fatally shot five tigers in October 2017. He reportedly did this so that he could fit other big cats into cages. According to KFOR, Maldonado also sold tiger cubs to raise funds.
KFOR reports that Maldonado-Passage also allegedly falsified records of tigers, lions, and a baby lemur. He reportedly said they were being donated, but they were actually sold for money.
In court, KFOR reports that recordings of Maldonado-Passage negotiating the hiring of an hitman were used as evidence. For payment, Maldonado-Passage allegedly said he would sell tigers.
In 2011, Baskin, the murder-for-hire target, reportedly sued Maldonado-Passage for trademark infringement. She had been an outspoken critic about Maldonado-Passage's treatment of animals, KFOR says.
On Friday, Jan. 28, Maldonado-Passage's original sentence of 22 years was reduced to 21 years, KFOR reports.
Maldonado-Passage was reportedly diagnosed with prostate cancer in November 2021. According to KFOR, he delayed radiation treatment for his aggressive cancer diagnosis to go through an earlier resentencing hearing.