The White House released a list of 73 pardons and 70 commutations shortly before 1:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, and Joseph Maldonado-Passage – also known as “Joe Exotic” — was not on the list. Maldonado-Passage, who starred in Netflix’s “Tiger King” documentary, is serving a 22-year sentence in a Fort Worth, Texas, federal prison for his conviction on charges that he participated in a murder-for-hire plot and violated federal wildlife laws.
In asking for clemency, Maldonado-Passage submitted a handwritten letter in September, calling President Trump his hero and invoking Mr. Trump’s criticism of federal investigators.
The Netflix star’s legal argument for a pardon is that he was “just some gay, gun-toting redneck in Oklahoma” before his recent “Tiger King” fame, and that he did not get a fair trial.
CBS DFW reported private investigator Eric Love spearheaded the campaign to free Joe Exotic. He, and the stretch Dodge limo ready to drive him away from prison, were standing by all day Tuesday. Supporters lined up outside the Federal Medical Facility, hoping to see him released.
“I’m out here, I’m excited,” said Beatrice Salazar. “My daughter wants to get his autograph. I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re just out here watching and waiting.”
Meanwhile, a federal judge in Oklahoma has ordered the new owners of an Oklahoma zoo featured in the Netflix documentary to turn over all the lion and tiger cubs in their possession, along with the animals’ mothers, to the federal government.
U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III issued the order last week in the case against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe and the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park based on claimed violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act.
“The Lowes have showed a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Jeffrey Lowe’s attorney, Daniel Card of Oklahoma City, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
The Lowes took over operations of the zoo, which was previously run by Maldonado-Passage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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