Joe Exotic‘s former attorney is accusing the imprisoned reality star of becoming a drug dealer behind bars. Francisco Hernandez claimed the Tiger King star — real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage — admitted to him that he is using his Netflix earnings and fan donations to buy illicit substances.
Hernandez discussed the alleged confession in a 147-page court filing, where he also addressed Exotic’s accusations that the lawyer had mismanaged his case.
“Unbeknownst to Mr. Hernandez, some payments that Mr. Maldonado-Passage directed Mr. Hernandez to make [from his account] were cloaked payments for drug transactions in the prison,” Hernandez’s lawyer Roland Johnson said in the court documents. “Indeed, Mr. Maldonado-Passage would lie to Mr. Hernandez, referring to the payments as expenses for tiger food, among other descriptions.”
The lawsuit further stated that Hernandez did not discover how the payments were truly being used until September 2021 — just over two years after the beginning of his 2019 trial — after the Netflix star was caught with a burner phone and later told Hernandez the truth about his alleged drug dealing.
“Of course, Mr. Hernandez told Mr. Maldonado-Passage to cease facilitating the drug payments,” the court filing read.
As Radar previously reported, Exotic was found guilty of over a dozen counts of wildlife crimes as well as two counts of hiring hitmen to kill his business rival Carol Baskin. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2020. However, the sentence was later adjusted to 21 years in January 2022, after a judge ruled they had used “improper sentencing guidelines” in the initial trial.
Prior to the resentencing, the 59-year-old had been attempting to campaign for his release to get proper medical treatment following his diagnosis with prostate cancer. Exotic was fearful that between his already failing health and the ongoing pandemic, he would die in prison.
“All medical treatment has been canceled. We now have Delta Covid in here. We are on lockdown,” the television personality explained at the time. “They pulled some positive inmates out of my unit. With this many guards going home, no mask in the community, and coming back – there is no way to avoid this.”
Exotic is currently scheduled to be released from prison in 2037.
The Sun was first to report Hernandez’ claims about Exotic’s alleged drug dealing.