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Prosecutors deny 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic's claims of outrageous government conduct

January 9, 2022

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge not to consider Joe Exotic's claims of outrageous government conduct and entrapment at his resentencing.

"The United States denies these claims," prosecutors told the judge in a response to a sentencing memo.

"However, even if Defendant’s claims had any merit, a resentencing hearing is not the proper forum for reviewing these speculative claims or the propriety of his conviction."

The former Oklahoma zookeeper is set to be resentenced Jan. 28 in Oklahoma City federal court in his murder-for-hire case.

Prosecutors argue Joe Exotic should bring up his claims in a different forum, like a motion for new trial.

His attorney, John Phillips, has said he plans to file such a motion. "Simply put, 2022 will be busy and we believe it will lead to not only Joe's freedom, but the investigation of others, including agents of the federal government," the Florida attorney said in a news release last week.

However, the attorney also is asking U.S. District Judge Scott Palk to consider the misconduct claims at the resentencing.

"The need to incapacitate criminals via incarceration is far weaker in the case of first time, middle-aged, infirmed criminals … and particularly in those who were induced by the government to commit their offenses," he argued in a sentencing memo.

Joe Exotic was found guilty at trial of twice hiring someone in 2017 to kill his chief critic, Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.

Baskin accused the big cat breeder of exploiting tiger cubs for profit and had been trying to stop him for years. She also had been actively trying to collect court judgments against him for trademark infringement and other civil wrongs.

Joe Exotic also was convicted at trial of crimes involving the animals at his now-closed roadside zoo in Wynnewood.

He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. Millions became familiar with his case from the hit 2020 Netflix true-crime documentary series "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,"

Joe Exotic is being resentenced because a federal appeals court ruled the trial judge made a mistake in calculating the punishment.

His memo to the judge was filed under seal in September and the government's response was filed under seal in October. The judge unsealed both documents Friday.

He has long claimed that he was set up by his former business partner, Jeff Lowe, with the help of the government and an informant.

They "were motivated to push this concocted plot forward no matter how ridiculous and unbelievable it became," his attorney argued in the sentencing memo.

The attorney submitted a sworn statement from key prosecution witness Allen Glover in support of the misconduct claims.

In the statement, Glover said he didn't tell the truth at the trial. "I committed perjury during my trial testimony regarding my involvement as the hitman," he said.

Glover, a zoo worker, testified at trial that Joe Exotic paid him $3,000 to kill Baskin.

"He was showing me he'd seen on the Internet somewhere or another that she likes to take walks ... and that would probably be a good place to do it," Glover testified.

He told jurors that he pretended to go along with the plan to get money to leave the zoo. He said he went to a beach in Florida and partied instead.

In his new statement, he said he stole the money.

He said Lowe worked with a wildlife agent to "create, direct and coerce" the murder-for-hire plot after other plans to get Joe Exotic "out of the picture" failed.

He said Lowe asked him to approach Joe Exotic and "offer myself as a hitman."

Joe Exotic "always joked about wishing Carole Baskin was gone because of the financial stress she caused him," Glover said in the new statement. "No one ever took him seriously."

He said Lowe later instructed him after he returned to the zoo on what to say and how to say it to get Joe Exotic indicted. "He told me that I needed to be on the government's side and not Joe's side," Glover said. "Jeff Lowe rehearsed the story with me multiple times."

Glover also admitted in the statement to planning to decapitate Joe Exotic at the zoo by stringing a wire along a path he frequently traveled in a four-wheeler.

Glover alleged Lowe "agreed to the plot."

The admission about a plan to kill Joe Exotic first came to light in November when Netflix released "Tiger King 2." Netflix reported Lowe declined to comment on Glover's allegation.

"We are leaving the haters and liars behind us and moving onto bigger and better things in 2022," Lowe and his wife, Lauren, said in an Instagram post Jan. 1.

"Our next adventure takes us to South America to film some reality TV and show our support to the private zoo industry."

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