Prison Holding Joe Exotic Has Most COVID-19 Deaths

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A COVID-19 outbreak at Joe Exotic’s prison in Texas has killed 10 inmates, more than any other facility or halfway house in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, The Oklahoman reports. More than 600 inmates have tested positive at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth since the pandemic began, the bureau says. The former Oklahoma zookeeper — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — was transferred to the Federal Medical Center in March. The big cat breeder was sentenced in January to 22 years in prison for twice trying to have his chief critic killed, for illegally killing five tigers at his zoo and for other crimes. “Not sure when this will be over here,” he wrote of the outbreak in a May 5 letter filed in Oklahoma City federal court.

He wrote to seek more time to make a legal filing in his civil rights case. He is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, his prosecutor, a federal agent, a former business partner and others he blames for his conviction. Joe Exotic said he was in a special housing unit. “The unit I was suppose to go to has over 200 people tested positive for COVID-19,” he wrote. The pandemic made Joe Exotic a household name as millions watched the Netflix documentary series about his life and murder-for-hire trial. “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” premiered in March as Americans increasingly stayed at home. The Bureau of Prisons has attributed 59 inmate deaths to COVID-19. More than 4,500 inmates and 583 workers have tested positive since the pandemic began. Most have recovered. The first death of an inmate from the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, which holds 1,400 men, was April 22. The latest was Tuesday.

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