Joe Exotic indicted in murder-for-hire plot

OKLAHOMA CITY (KXII) - The longtime operator of a Wynnewood exotic animal park who unsuccessfully ran for Oklahoma governor earlier this year has been indicted in a murder-for-hire plot, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, 55, better known as "Joe Exotic," was arrested by U.S. Marshals Friday in Gulf Breeze, Florida.

Prosecutors allege Maldonado-Passage of hiring someone to murder a woman last November.

According to the indictment, Maldonado-Passage gave the unnamed person $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to South Carolina and then to Florida to carry out the murder.

He allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the deed. The indictment alleges Maldonado-Passage caused the person to travel to Dallas to get fake identification for use in the plot.

According to the indictment, the person traveled from Oklahoma to South Carolina on November 26, 2017.

In a second count, the indictment alleges that beginning in July 2016, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly asked a different unnamed person to find someone to murder the woman in exchange for money.

The second person put Maldonado-Passage in contact with an undercover FBI agent. Maldonado-Passage met with the undercover agent on December 8, 2017, to discuss details of murdering the woman.

The woman did not suffer any physical harm.

If Maldonado-Passage is found guilty of murder-for-hire, he could be imprisoned on each count up to ten years.

Maldonado-Passage appeared on the ballot for Oklahoma Governor in the Libertarian Primary earlier this year. He did not garner enough votes to advance to last month's runoff.

Maldonado-Passage has been a longtime target of animal rights groups, who have alleged he has mistreated the exotic animals in the park, which are primarily tigers.