Joe Exotic's Sentence Was Wrongly Calculated—He Now Has To Spend 21 Years In Prison

By Gina Florio··  2 min read
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Joe Exotic

It was nearly impossible to look away from the wacky, twisted story of Tiger King. Joe Exotic found himself in the middle of a murder-for-hire plot investigation and was subsequently sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In April 2020 Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for murder-for-hire and for violating the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act. He allegedly hired two people to kill Carole Baskin, an animal sanctuary owner he had a longstanding contentious relationship with. The two openly hated each other for quite some time.

He Tried To Fight for His Freedom

Joe tried to plead with the judge on the day of his sentencing in January 2020. He claimed he needed to take care of his sick father at home and that he himself had two "incurable" diseases he needed to treat.

"I know that I've done wrong," Joe said. "I know that. I will never be here again."

His attorneys submitted a 257-page application for a pardon in an attempt to have him released from prison. "Joseph is scheduled to be released from (Bureau of Prisons) custody in 2037; however, with his ‘comprised’ health, he will likely die in prison,” they wrote. “He humbly requests a pardon to correct the injustices he has experienced and to have the opportunity to return to providing meaningful contributions to his community.”

Joe's fans remained loyal to him throughout the process. They came to the courtroom carrying signs that said "Free Joe Exotic" and followed every step of the case and sentencing.

Still to this day Joe maintains his innocence and insists that he was set up by bad actors who were out to frame him. He even pleaded with President Biden in a recording to give him a pardon: "This is the time that you need to be a world hero." Biden never responded.

His Sentence Was Reduced

However, in July 2021, a U.S. court of appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver found that the court had miscalculated his sentence of 22 years. Evidently, the two murder-for-hire plots should have been treated as one conviction as both were meant to kill one person, Carole Baskin. As a result, Joe was resentenced to 21 years on January 28, 2022.

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