'Tiger King': Will Donald Trump Pardon Joe Exotic From His Prison Sentence in 2021?

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, made waves during the early days of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Netflix series Tiger King took the world by storm and exposed the dark underworld of big cat ownership in the United States. 

As 2020 comes to a close, Maldonado-Passage’s supporters are looking to President Donald Trump and the new year for a possible pardon for the “Tiger King.” 

Joe Exotic is serving time for ordering a hit on Carole Baskin 

Maldonado-Passage, the former owner of an exotic animal park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison after his role in the 2017 murder-for-hire plot to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin. The charges also highlighted Maldonado-Passage’s many violations of wildlife law. 

Baskin, the founder of Florida’s Big Cat Rescue, openly spoke out about Maldonado-Passage and his mistreatment of big cats. For years, the two feuded publicly. Maldonado-Passage shared countless Facebook posts and YouTube videos threatening Baskin and her conservation. 

Later, Maldonado-Passage offered to pay $3,000 to have Baskin executed. Unbeknownst to Maldonado-Passage, the person he offered to pay was an undercover FBI agent (via NBC News).

Texas millionaire Eric Love is leading Joe Exotic’s legal battle 

Eric Love, a millionaire from Texas, is at the forefront of Maldonado-Passage’s legal battle. He felt compelled to help Maldonado-Passage after watching the Tiger King docu-series. 

His journey to help Maldonado-Passage began when he hired a team of legal advisors — dubbed “Team Tiger” — to put together a 257-page document outlining Maldonado-Passage’s innocence. 

“This will prove that Joe is innocent,” Love told a local news outlet. “When you think about precious cargo, it’s beyond precious. Because this is someone’s life. This is somebody’s entire life. This is [Maldonado-Passage’s] freedom.”

Love has been in contact with Maldonado-Passage during his time in prison. Allegedly, he sent Maldonado-Passage a letter that read:

I am a retired cop, a philanthropist in Fort Worth, and I am a private investigator. I can assemble a team of attorneys, and I think I have a great shot of getting you out of prison on a presidential pardon.

Maldonado-Passage replied, writing: “Eric I desperately need your help. You’ll be hearing from my power of attorney.”

Love hopes his attempts to help Maldonado-Passage will pay off in the new year. 

Will Donald Trump release ‘Tiger King’s Joe Exotic from federal prison?

According to TMZ, Maldonado-Passage could be pardoned before Donald Trump officially leaves office. Maldonado-Passage’s legal team is scheduled to fly to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, for a “high-level meeting in connection with their pardon petition.” 

Love will fly “Exotic 1” to the nation’s capital for the Trump rally scheduled next week. 

“The Exotic Express will fly the nation’s air space requesting President Trump to grant a pardon to an innocent man — Joe Exotic,” Love said in the TMZ video. “President Trump knows that Team Tiger will be on the ground in Washington, D.C. to support him on this historic day.” 

Whether or not Love’s plan will work is still up in the air. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for the latest on Joe Exotic’s legal battle. 

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