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Culture

Judge Sets Jan. 28 for “Tiger King” Joe Exotic Resentencing

January 4, 2022

OKLAHOMA CITY — A federal judge in Oklahoma on Monday set a Jan 28 date for the resentencing of “Tiger King” Joe Exotic.

U.S. District Judge Scott Palk set the resentencing for 10 a.m. and granted the defendant’s request to be transported to Oklahoma City for the hearing.

A federal appeals court in July ruled that Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, should get a shorter sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver determined the trial court wrongly treated two murder-for-hire convictions separately in calculating his prison term.

Maldonado-Passage was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison. But the appeals court said the court should have calculated his advisory sentencing range between 17 1/2 years and just under 22 years in prison, rather than between just under 22 years and 27 years in prison.

Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, also was sentenced for killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.

Last month, attorneys for the former Oklahoma zookeeper said he was delaying cancer treatment until after his resentencing. Maldonado-Passage announced in November that he has prostate cancer, and he was transferred from a federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, to a federal medical center in Butner, North Carolina.

In a separate action, a couple who succeeded Maldonado-Passage in operating the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and Tiger King Park agreed to surrender their rights to 97 animals of endangered or threatened species and 47 other animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act.

Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, who are former friends of Maldonado-Passage, also agreed in a Dec. 23 consent decree filed in federal court in Muskogee, Oklahoma, to never again exhibit animals.

Federal agents seized the 97 endangered animals, including 68 big cats and a jaguar, from Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in two seizures last May and August. Federal officials accused the Lowes of harming and harassing the animals.

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