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'Joe Exotic' sentenced in murder-for-hire plot

Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage was convicted of trying to arrange the killing of Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin, who criticized his treatment of animals.
Credit: Santa Rosa County Jail via AP, File
This undated file photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage. Maldonado-Passage, a former Oklahoma zookeeper and one-time candidate for governor has been sentenced in a murder-for-hire plot.

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma zookeeper and one-time candidate for governor has been sentenced to 22 years in prison. 

A federal judge in Oklahoma City sentenced 56-year-old Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage on Wednesday for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws. 

Better known as “Joe Exotic," Maldonado-Passage was convicted last year of trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin, the founder and CEO of Tampa's Big Cat Rescue, who criticized his treatment of animals. She wasn't harmed.

Maldonado-Passage earlier testified that while disagreements with Baskin spilled over into his social media posts, he never truly wanted her dead.

He also was found guilty of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records. 

RELATED: Former gubernatorial candidate convicted of trying to have Big Cat Rescue founder killed

Maldonado-Passage unsuccessfully ran for Oklahoma governor in 2018, running as a Libertarian.

He maintains he is innocent and says he will appeal. 

RELATED: Ex-zookeeper 'Joe Exotic' accused of using money from tiger sales for murder-for-hire plot

RELATED: Local animal conservationist speaks out about ‘murder for hire’ plot

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