Joe Exotic, the former exotic animal park operator and figure at the centre of a Netflix documentary series, has been unexpectedly transferred to another federal medical centre, according to a statement from his attorney.
The man known as the “Tiger King” – whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage – was transferred by plane from a facility in Fort Worth, Texas to a federal medical centre in Butner, North Carolina late Tuesday or early Wednesday, according to his attorney John Phillips. Mr Maldonado-Passage was expected to be transferred later this month, he said.
Earlier this month, he revealed a prostate cancer diagnosis. Mr Phillips said he has been undergoing medical treatment “for a host of issues”.
A federal appeals court ruling in July determined that Mr Maldonado-Passage should get a shorter prison sentence for his role in an alleged murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws, for which he was convicted in 2019.
In January 2020, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for allegedly trying to hire two men to kill Florida animal rights activist Carole Baskin. An appeals court ruling determined that the trial had wrongly considered those two convictions separately in determining his sentence against sentencing guidelines.
The court has determined that he be given a new sentence. He has maintained that he is innocent.
The Butner medical facility houses more than 750 people with special health needs, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
“The last few years has taken everything from Joe Exotic,” Mr Phillips said in a statement. “His property, his freedom, his husband sold his clothes, his parents have passed away and now he faces cancer. Please keep Joe in your thoughts and prayers.”
Last year, his attorneys formally requested a pardon “to correct the injustices he has experienced and to have the opportunity to return to providing meaningful contributions to his community.”
Former president Donald Trump did not include him among the dozens of pardons and commutations issued in his final months of office; a legal team for Mr Maldonado-Passage was confident in their request and had prepared a limousine for his release.
In his statement, Mr Phillips contends that new revelations in his client’s case include “significant evidence of fraud and misconduct.”
“We expect his legal case will be escalating pretty soon,” the statement reads. “We are aware that federal agents are contacting witnesses. We urge every witness contacted by law enforcement to hire a lawyer.”
A second season of the Netflix true-crime seriesTiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness premiered on 17 November.