What Joe Exotic’s Sentence Means to Me
Already this morning I’ve responded to reporter Merritt Clifton’s article with lengthy research because he does such a great job of archiving the history of animals. Howie and I also had a conference call with the UK version of Associated Press, but that call didn’t take long as they wanted to pay me for an exclusive and that can’t happen. We are getting this message of cub handling abuse out to everyone we can during this 15 minutes of fame.
I don’t know how calm and reflective I can be because Jamie’s going out of town, which means I’m on call for the sanctuary, I’m expecting the condo cop in Clearwater to call at the worst possible time to tell me there is a raccoon in the humane trap I set for the injured bobcat, so I’ll have to drive 40 min to release it, I have an eye appointment coming up and need to drive my mother’s birthday gift over to her, if I’m going to be doing a car day…and literally, right in the middle of this sentence, Gale calls and wants to revamp the way we document hours for payroll.
I put her on speaker so I can make the bed, clean the cat box, put in my contact lenses, do some time on the BEMER mat for my back (which is wound up tight after carrying those huge humane traps), go outside to check if my Veestro meals have arrived and notice that Rocky Creek is completely dry. I could walk across to the other side. I haven’t seen that since Hurricane Irma so I stand there just in awe for a while… wondering, what the heck?
Gale tells me we got the Certificate of Occupancy on Rowland Road and I wonder how long ago that saga started. In Nov. 2016 I loaned Marty Williams at AAA 66k, secured by a lot model and in July 2017 she borrowed 86k on another lot model. On October 2017 I discover she’s gone out of business and left behind the two mobile homes that are my security for the loans. That begins months of tracking her down, getting titles, relocating the homes to the sanctuary for safe keeping, finding lots for them, securing permits and getting them ready for sale. Finally, after a little more inside plaster repair is done, Rowland will be ready. Racetrack still does not have a CO yet.
OK, back to calm reflection.
I feel a sense of peace and closure because justice has been served and I believe Judge Scott L. Palk did a wonderful job of detailing his criteria and thinking for the sentence so that no appellate court would set it aside. I found the detailing of months to serve confusing, but the result is 264 months or 22 years with no parole.
108 months for Count 1 and 108 months for Count 2 (murder for hire) to run consecutively.
12 months each for Counts 3-11 to run concurrent to all counts.
48 months each for Count 12 and 15-21 to run concurrent with each other but consecutive to Counts 1 and 2.
If he lives that long he is then to be on supervised release for 3 years on Counts 1, 2, 12 and 15-21 plus 1 year each on Counts 3-11, but those all run concurrently. He was fined $1225.00 for court costs and will do his time at the Federal Medical Center in Ft. Worth, Texas or at the Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola, FL. Both are minimum security level prisons in the system, but I don’t think he’s smart enough to break out. Insider Monkey called Pensacola one of the easiest prisons to do time in with only 661 inmates and lots of activities. Ft Worth has 1740 inmates and higher security since 2017.
The judge emphasized repeatedly that there would be ZERO opportunity for Joseph Schreibvogel Maldonado Passage to ever possess exotic animals again. I’ll wait for the transcript to document all of the thought that went into Judge Palk’s speech. Right now, I’m just thinking about how this feels.
This feels like Joe is a closed chapter in my life and Howie and I have both vowed not to follow his Facebook posts any longer. They may have been helpful in getting information on Jeff Lowe, but anything Joe could have exposed, he would have done already to avoid this sentence. He has nothing more to offer and though he will continue to rant about being set up, and appealing his case, or getting Trump to pardon him, Joe’s going to spend at least 19 of those 22 years in a cage where he can’t hurt another exotic cat or me. Then there is 3 more years of supervised release at the end. He will be over 80 before he walks free and by then the exotic cat industry won’t exist and he won’t be able to hurt another wildcat. Deep sigh…. Yes, this feels good.
I don’t think Joe will last 19 years in prison. He has no currency (ie: tiger cub experiences) to trade in exchange for the horrible way he treats people. I don’t think that will play well in prison. Some say he will kill himself, but I think he’s too cowardly to do that. He won’t reform because I presume his malignant narcissism ensures he will never think he did anything wrong. His anger will eat him alive every day. That feels just.
The only scenario where I see Joe spending less than the minimum mandatory portion of the sentence would be if he turned state’s evidence against Kevin Bhagavan “doc” Antle. I don’t think Joe was inside Mario Tabraue’s organization deeply enough to have the goods on him. He was in cahoots with Tim Stark, Bill Meadows, Gregg Woody and other mid size breeders, but they are already dominoes, in line to fall, without anything more from Joe.
The only big fish Joe might be able help reel in would be the slippery Antle. If Joe got his time cut in half for getting Antle convicted and jailed, I’d be fine with that because all I need is 10 years (maybe even just 5) of stopping the massive flow of cubs into the market in order to bring that cruel pay to play industry to a final halt.
I’m told Jeff Lowe is breeding as many cats as Joe ever did, and is focusing on hybrids, which aren’t protected by the Endangered Species Act. He’s on borrowed time though as PETA just got the court to include Jeff Lowe in their trafficking case against Tim Stark. Selling hybrids across state lines is still a violation of the Lacey Act.
It’s been more than two decades of struggle, to bring to light the abuse behind the scenes at cub handling operations, but the time has finally come. I’m so thankful to everyone who has helped enlighten those around them. I feel peace and tranquility as we move into the next era.
The above photo of Howie and me is from our honeymoon in 2004 when I wrote our 20 year plan to end the abuse of big cats. I like the octo-puss tenacles that represent reaching into every dark market the cats faced: cub petting, fur, circus, canned hunts, night club acts, inbreeding for color morphs, zoos, trafficking in their parts and private ownership. My vision of a world where all wild cats live free is one step closer today and that feels great! – Carole Baskin, Founder of Big Cat Rescue