Joe Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic” has filed a federal lawsuit for $94 million in damages for his 22-year prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and for animal abuse. The lawsuit names multiple defendants such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of the interior, the assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted him, and witnesses who testified against him in the case.
In 2019, Maldonado-Passage was convicted on two counts of murder for hire for a plot to kill Carole Baskin, the CEO of the non-profit animal sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, as well as on 17 federal charges of animal abuse. This new lawsuit is seeking damages for his allegedly being convicted based on perjury and false testimony.
Maldonado-Passage claims that he was unfairly singled out by the prosecutors in his case not based on merit but because he, “is an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and cross breeds.”
Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, was a well-known zoo operator before his 2019 felony convictions. He was the owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. According to himself, he is [was] the most prolific breeder of tigers in the United States.
Netflix recently released a documentary in which Joe “Exotic” and his eccentric ways are prominently featured called, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The film focuses on his character, his zoo, and his feud with Carole Baskin.
Many people recognize him for his bleached blonde mullet hairstyle and piercings. Prior to his 2019 conviction, he was known for his expletive-laden rants on YouTube and failed political campaigns, including an attempt to become the President of the United States.
As a young man, Joe joined the Eastvale, Texas police department and soon became the chief. He and his brother opened a pet store in Arlington, Texas in 1986. After closing this store and opening one nearby in1997, he came into conflict with Arlington officials over code violations because he felt that they were targeting him for hanging gay pride symbols in the store.
Currently, Maldonado-Passage is being detained at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas that houses 1500 inmates.
When asked for comment on this new lawsuit, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oklahoma City where Maldonado-Passage’s lawsuit was filed, declined to make a statement.