Armed with a new attorney, and former foe turned friend, explosive new court filings now allege government misconduct in the 22-year conviction of Joe Maldonado-Passage, most commonly known as Joe Exotic and the self-proclaimed Tiger King.
“It’s going to be nuclear,” said Joe Exotic.
In an August court filing, former witness for the U.S. government Jeff Lowe claims he was manipulated into cooperating with the government. And according to Joe and his attorney more are lining up in his defense.
“That’s what I want the public to know is the truth behind all of this,” said Joe during a phone interview. “I’ve been set up to shut up.”
For the past three years, the once magician, tiger park owner, and former presidential candidate has sat behind bars. His signature blond locks now gray.
“Here’s this guy who was bigger than life on the TV show that I watched, and he just was, you know, a trapped animal” said Attorney John Phillips.
The magic long gone.
“I’ve lost my parents during this. I’ve lost my zoo. My marriage is gone. They have even sold my clothes,” said Joe.
“He still had the mullet,” said Phillips. “He was like the guy on the TV show, but older and time has not been his ally.”
But despite a 22-year sentence, convicted of attempting to hire two people to kill Carole Baskin, along with an onslaught of animal charges, Joe’s now armed with a new attorney, a publicist and with the unlikely backing of his once business partners.
Joe is hopeful.
“If anything should happen, oh, President Biden should sign my pardon and let me go the hell home,” he said.
A once soured relationship with Jeff and Lauren Lowe is now surprisingly mended. But why? According to Joe:
“He thinks coming forward with all this information now is going to do him two things. One: make him a hero and that puts him back in the press and two: he thinks that if he exposes the corruption of what they do they won’t have enough to try him for anything.”
Self-serving or not, the Lowe’s, once witnesses for the federal government, have clearly changed sides.
“So, we just landed in Jacksonville, Florida to meet with John Phillips. We are signing affidavits on how Amanda Green and Matt Bryant have manipulated us, lied to us, the system, to get Joe into jail,” the couple said on a TikTok video.
Amanda Green, since turned judge, prosecuted the case against Joe. It was investigated by Special Agent Matt Bryant with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In an affidavit dated August 27, 2021, signed by Jeff Lowe, he supports the overturn of Joe’s 2019 conviction.
Under sworn testimony Lowe said, “Matthew Bryant continuously directed me to try different ways of getting the information he needed from Joseph Maldonado-Passage to support the elements of murder for hire,” and “the conversation between myself and Alan Glover regarding the murder for hire by Carole Baskin includes text messages that were created by me and staged.”
“It proves the text messages for the murder for hire was set up and they admit that,” said Joe.
Lowe goes on to say Bryant told him the animal charges were stacked on the murder for hire charges in order “to get some jurors heart strings bleeding on shooting those cats.”
He also said Bryant only wanted the heads of the buried tigers saying, “killing majestic tigers would demonize him to most jurors.”
“Agent Bryant and Amanda Green obstructed justice by suppressing evidence and covering up evidence that would have told the truth,” reacted Joe.
In addition to his testimony Phillips said Lowe also handed over a mountain of digital evidence that allegedly support his latest narrative and allege government misconduct.
“We literally have recordings now of Agent Bryant telling Jeff Lowe and James Garrison exactly what they need on a recording including Jeff saying, ‘Look, how about I fake these text messages to Joe and see how he responds?’ Well, that’s just fraud,” said Joe.
Joe said when it’s all said and done, his name will be cleared.
“When John Phillips feels the time is right – he’s going to shock the world and put the biggest black cloud over the Department of Justice,” said Joe.
“I won’t predict victory, but I know the public will look at Joe differently, will look at the government differently and I firmly believe, my belief, is Joe will be free,” said Phillips.
News 9 did reach out to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We were told they could not comment on an active case.