BURKBURNETT, Texas (TNN) - The Nextfix hit series “Tiger King” superstar Joseph Maldonado-Passage was not released from The Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, TX after being denied a pardon from President Trump before he left office.
“Being Joe Exotic in the Joe Exotic way, they wanted a limo to pick him up so that he didn’t get in a Yugo or something, that’s just not Joe. We were pretty stoked and then it’s like somebody kicked us in the gut about midnight last night,” said John Reinke, Friend and Former manager of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
By the time “Tiger King” had been premiered, Maldonado-Passage had been charged by the FBI with counts of falsifying wildlife records, killing tigers and selling them across state lines. He was also found guilty for the murder-for-hire plot against former zoo rival Carol Baskin.
“I can honestly tell you, I was at that zoo for 14 years. People look at him like he just abused animals all the time. I’m the one who took care of the animals, Joe just ran the zoo. Those animals were not abused,” said Reinke.
Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison while former friend Reinke along with other members from his camp took to the streets of Washington D.C. in an effort to help free Joe.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time, we’ve done several promotions,” said Reinke. “We went to D.C. in a jet, they wrapped the jet. We took a bus to D.C., they wrapped the bus. We pushed and pushed it in front of Trump. When Trump mentioned it during his press conference about looking into it, that’s when we really got fired up and put it in high gear.”
However, the pardon was unsuccessful. The crew says they aren’t giving up without a fight though, in a statement from Joe Passage lawyers, Francisco Hernandez, they say there will be an appeal but that decision will not happen overnight.
“It is the President’s Constitutional right to Pardon and we have to accept and respect his use of discretion. Score remains 0:0 at the end of the first quarter. After an aggressive first quarter Hail Mary, team tiger didn’t score. Three quarters to go. #freejoeexotic,” said Hernandez on Facebook.
Friends of Maldonado-Passage say they have spoken with him and want him to know that there is a whole team behind him supporting him and doing their best to get him home.
“The attorneys are awesome,” said Reinke. “Francisco Hernandez down there, he’s got four other deals in place in case this doesn’t happen, in case this doesn’t happen, so there’s some more doors we’re gonna open.”