Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known as Joe Exotic, is in prison for a long time. He’s the subject of Netflix’s new documentary series Tiger King, but he won’t likely get to watch the series any time soon. Today he’s in prison and it will be a long time before he gets out.
Joe Exotic Is In Prison for 22 Years
Joe Exotic managed Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. He was born Joseph Schreibvogel in Kansas and his parents were farmers. At one point in the early 1980s, he was named Sheriff of Eastvale, Texas, Newsweek reported.
But after that, it all went downhill and it’s all documented in Netflix’s new documentary. In 1987, he opened the Exotic Animal Memorial Park after his brother was killed by a drunk driver. He received his first tigers in 2000 and bred them. Over time, his business became more popular and he had more than 1,000 animals at the park.
After losing a trademark lawsuit and being ordered to pay $1 million in 2013, he began obsessing on Big Cat Rescue’s owner, Carole Baskin, Newsweek reported. He started leaving threats against her on Facebook and YouTube, NBC News reported. It escalated from there.
In September 2018, he was arrested.
He was ultimately convicted of attempted murder for paying a man $3,000 to go to Florida and kill Baskin. According to prosecutors, he had promised additional money to an undercover FBI agent when he tried to hire a second hitman.
He was also found guilty on nine counts for killing five tigers in October 2017, a violation of the Endangered Species Act, NBC reported. On top of that, he was convicted on eight counts of violating the Lacey Act and falsifying wildlife records.
During the sentencing phase of his trial, Baskin asked the court to think about her family and what would happen if he were ever released from jail. You can see a video of her reading the statement she shared with the court below. In her video, she said she had been seeing everyone as a threat for the last 10 years because of him and she would look over her shoulders all the time again if he were ever released.
As for Joe Exotic, he told the court that he didn’t break any laws and had poor health. He blamed Baskin and also said he needed to apologize to her, National Geographic reported. His lawyers asked to allow him to own wild animals again after his release. But it was not enough to persuade the judge.
On January 2020, just a few months before Netflix’s documentary was released, Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison. That includes 108 months for murder-for-hire convictions and another four years on the wildlife charges. Judge Palk had said he was consumed and obsessed with silencing Balking, National Geographic reported. The judge also noted that while he was in Grady County Jail, he tried to sale lion cubs over the phone.
He was found guilty in April and sentenced in January. Today, he remains in jail. Since his is now 56, he will likely be 78 before he is ever released from jail.