TIGER King star Joe Exotic secretly dealt drugs behind bars while claiming he was fighting cancer, according to a lawsuit filed by one of his former lawyers.
Francisco Hernandez claimed in court documents that Exotic confessed to selling drugs after the Netflix star accused him of mismanagement and tried to get the lawyer barred from practicing law.
Hernandez hit back with a damning 147-page court filing that slammed the reality star's claims as inaccurate.
Hernandez said in a legal response to the Texas Bar that he and Exotic parted ways after the former big cat sanctuary owner made a number of shady dealings, including facilitating drug deals in prison.
The notorious Tiger King star ordered in the drugs, the lawyer claims, by unknowingly using him to send money to suppliers.
Exotic bought the drugs using his Tiger King business account (IOLTA), which includes royalty fees from Netflix footage, a book deal, music royalties and also fan donations.
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Hernandez’s lawyer Roland Johnson said in the lawsuit: "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.
“Indeed, Mr Maldonado-Passage would lie to Mr Hernandez, referring to the payments as expenses for tiger food, among other descriptions.
“Mr Hernandez only learned of the true nature of these payments in September 2021, when Mr Maldonado-Passage was caught in prison with a burner phone and admitted the practice to Mr Hernandez.
“Of course, Mr Hernandez told Mr Maldonado-Passage to cease facilitating the drug payments."
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In Hernandez’s court filings, he said he has email evidence of Exotic “directing Mr. Hernandez to use funds” for the drug acquisition from his Tiger King business account.
Insiders allege Exotic ran the drug scam by ordering the cloaked payment to be made to criminals outside of jail who would smuggle drugs into the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Fort Worth, Texas.
Exotic would then allegedly be awarded gifts from prisoners and protection, according to the lawsuit.
However, guards reportedly discovered Exotic’s cell phone, which lead the prison administration to take disciplinary action.
It's an extraordinary u-turn for the duo, who were close friends in 2020 while the Texas lawyer was pushing then-President Donald Trump to pardon Exotic.
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Exotic is serving 22 years in federal prison after he was convicted of wildlife violations and a murder-for-hire plot intended to kill Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin.
The U.S. Sun reached out to reps for Exotic, Hernandez and the Bureau of Prisons for comment but received no response.
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