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Oklahoma ex-zookeeper "Joe Exotic" sentenced to more than 20 years in murder-for-hire plot

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Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 15:51:18-05

OKLAHOMA CITY — The man known as "Oklahoma's Tiger King" was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for his part in a murder-for-hire plot, according to KFOR in Oklahoma City.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as 'Joe Exotic,' and the former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park were indicted in 2018 by a federal grand jury on two counts of murder-for-hire.

Maldonado-Passage gave a person $3,000 to go from Oklahoma to Florida to murder a Florida woman and “allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the deed,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma.

Maldonado-Passage was also indicted by a grand jury on an additional 19 counts of wildlife charges, which included the violation of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act.

In October 2017, prosecutors say, Maldonado-Passage shot and killed five tigers to make room for other big cats in the cages, as well as sold tiger cubs. He was also accused of falsifying records relating to lions, a baby lemur and tigers which had been purportedly transported or donated for exhibition, but had actually been sold.

According to KFOR, Carole Baskin, a chief critic of Maldonado-Passage who was outspoken about the treatment of the animals at the park, was the intended target of the murder-for-hire hit.

In 2011, Baskin sued Maldonado-Passage successfully for trademark infringement.

Recorded evidence was offered by officials of Maldonado-Passage negotiating the hiring with an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman, according to KFOR.

The defense for Maldonado-Passage claimed that he was framed, stating that he had no intention of wanting Baskin dead and was all talk.

The former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park was found guilty last year on all counts.

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