FACT CHECK: Was Joe Exotic Transferred To The Cass County Jail In Texas?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims former Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known as “Joe Exotic,” has been transferred to Cass County Jail in Texas.

Verdict: False

Maldonado-Passage has never been housed at Cass County Jail and, according to prison records, is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The pictured article was published as part of a Texas newspaper’s April Fool’s Day edition.

Fact Check:

Maldonado-Passage, the main character of the popular Netflix docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” was sentenced in January to 22 years in prison for attempting to hire someone to murder Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin, plus multiple violations of wildlife laws, according to the Justice Department.

The March 31 image shows what appears to be a Cass County Sun article written by reporter Lacy Gross, with the headline saying, “Joe Exotic transferred to Cass County Jail.” (RELATED: What Percentage Of Federal Prisoners Are Locked Up For Violent Offenses?)

Shawn Larson, editor and publisher of the Cass County Sun, confirmed to the Daily Caller in an email that the article came from the local Texas newspaper. The article was an “April Fools Joke” included in the Cass County Sun’s annual April Fool’s Day edition, according to Larson.

However, the Facebook user didn’t provide that key context in the image or the accompanying caption, falsely insisting, “Its (sic) real guys.”

Maldonado-Passage is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons website. Larry Rowe, the Cass County sheriff, told the Caller in an email that Maldonado-Passage had never been held in Cass County Jail and that the claim was “fake news.”

In late March, the former Oklahoma zookeeper filed a federal lawsuit from prison seeking nearly $94 million in damages, claiming that he was, among other things, convicted on false and perjured testimony, according to The Associated Press. Listed among the defendants in his lawsuit are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and several witnesses in his case.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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