Infamous Joe Exotic from Netflix 'Tiger King' Sues Department of Justice For Rejecting Pardon Request | Inside Edition

Infamous Joe Exotic from Netflix 'Tiger King' Sues Department of Justice For Rejecting Pardon Request

A mural feating Joe Exotic
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Joe Exotic, the former zookeeper known for his role in the Netflix series, "Tiger King," is now suing the Department of Justice after his request for pardon was denied

Joe Exotic, the former zookeeper known for his role in the Netflix series, "Tiger King," is now suing the Department of Justice after his request for pardon was denied in September, according to a report.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who has been seeking a presidential pardon for months, was convicted in April 2019 for two counts of murder-for-hire for hiring a hitman to kill Carole Baskin, who ran a big cat sanctuary and criticized Maldonado-Passage's zoo. He is currently being held in Fort Worth, Texas, where he is serving his 22-year sentence, Inside Edition Digital previously reported.

The 57-year-old requested a petition for a pardon from President Trump, in a request that details 'Exotic' as a philanthropic, compassionate man –– an image that his lawyers claim was not painted in the widely-watched miniseries, according to his pardon. 

His lawyer also describes 'Exotic's' medical shortcomings, including anemia and common variable immune deficiency, which leaves him at high-risk in a prison environment, the document said. His lawyers assert that it is likely 'Exotic' will die in prison.

'Exotic' submitted his pardon application on Sept. 8 but two days later the Office of the Pardon Attorney emailed responding that his application was denied. In the new six-page complaint, filed Dec. 16, his lawyer, Francisco Hernandez, claims Acting Pardon Attorney Rosalind Sargent-Burns did not physically pass along the formal recommendation for pardon to the president, Courthousenews reported.

He alleges that, although the email from Sargent-Burns claims the president has the ultimate authority to make a decision, the email "implied" that the request was not presented directly to Trump himself, the complaint said. Only the president can issue federal pardons. 

Since his sentencing, 'Exotic' has also sought support from influential figures including television personality and criminal justice reform activist Kim Kardashian-West, to whom on Nov. 4 he wrote a handwritten letter, ET reported. 

"I am writing you this letter not as Joe Exotic but as the person Joseph Maldonado-Passage, asking you to please help me by just taking 10 minutes out of your life and placing a call to President Trump to look at my 257-page pardon it's all the evidence I'm innocent," he wrote to Kardashian-West according to the outlet.

“Many people have come out and publicly expressed their disagreement with Joe Exotic’s conviction and subsequent sentence," the complaint reads. "Among those, are members of the President’s own family. Donald Trump Junior has been an advocate for Joe Exotic to be Pardoned."

'Exotic' was also convicted on eight counts of falsifying wildlife records and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

Joe Exotic's lawyer did not immediately respond when reached out to for comment. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

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