The star of Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, applied for a pardon from the Trump administration and within the document is a handwritten note, obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, making his appeal to his fellow reality star.
The former zoo operator, who’s in federal prison serving a 22-year sentence for trying to hire someone to kill rival Carole Baskin, appealed to Trump by first heaping on praise. In the letter he talked about how he “looked up” to the president “because you stand for what you believe in no matter what anyone thinks.” Maldonado-Passage, who ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 presidential election, said he even voted for Trump instead of himself. (He received just 962 votes in total.)
After buttering him up, the 57-year-old wrote about how everything he and his parents obtained in life was “stolen by criminals.” He said he worked for ”80 percent of my life” and had “faith in our system until I became trapped in it.” And he appealed to Trump who has been under scrutiny throughout his presidency and faced impeachment, writing, “I see what they do to you and can’t believe it.”
He said the federal government allowed him to be convicted unfairly, claiming prosecutors “knew their witnesses were lying under oath and even helped them.” As a result, he has become “ashamed of our country.”
Maldonado-Passage begged Trump to "listen to the millions who see the truth" and “grant me a miracle, ‘a pardon,’ and let me put this behind me... Allow me to make you proud, to make America proud, to make the world proud. Be my hero please.”
There’s also a second handwritten letter, dated Aug. 4, in which Maldonado-Passage asked Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. for help. He referenced previous letters he had sent the first son and again appealed to Team Trump by referencing “fake news” and saying that the president would “do amazing things” if “they” would “just leave him alone.”
Maldonado-Passage said that the case against him is personal, describing himself as a “pawn for a personal agenda.” And while serving his sentence, currently at Federal Medical Center (FMC) Fort Worth, over the last two years, he claimed he’s been “sexually assaulted by jail staff, beat up and tied in a chair to the point where the skin came off my arms. Dying could not be as bad as what this system has done to me.”
Maldonado-Passage shared an image of one of his injuries, a cut on his wrist, with OK! magazine. The openly gay tiger breeder told the outlet he was “sexually assaulted by a guard” at the Grady County jail in Oklahoma, where he was prior to been transferred into the Federal Bureau of Prisons system. He also claimed he was “locked in a room naked for eight days sleeping on a cold metal shelf on the floor with dried feces and sperm on it from so many others before me.”
Maldonado-Passage, who has maintained his innocence, is appealing his conviction. He also hopes Trump will make an exception with a pardon, as under the rules governing petitions for executive clemency, there’s a minimum waiting period of five years after completion of sentence required before someone becomes eligible to apply for a presidential pardon.
Trump recently granted a pardon to Alice Johnson after another reality star, Kim Kardashian, brought her plight to his attention. Johnson, who was convicted for having a non-violent role in a cocaine-trafficking operation, spoke at the Republican convention last month.
Maldonado-Passage’s issues with Baskin stemmed from her attempts to shut down his zoo over alleged animal abuse allegations. He was convicted of attempting to hire a hitman to kill her. For his part, Maldonado-Passage has accused Baskin of being involved in the disappearance her first husband, Don Lewis. She has maintained that she had nothing to do with it.
Baskin, whose Big Cat Rescue was awarded Maldonado-Passage’s zoo in June, will compete on the new season of Dancing With the Stars after becoming an internet sensation as a result of Tiger King’s ratings success during the pandemic.