Joe Exotic fails to get Trump pardon while Lil Wayne and Kodak Black are granted clemency

A couple of the people President Donald Trump pardoned in his final hours in office are familiar names in the entertainment world.

Joe Exotic and Lil Wayne had both hoped for pardons from President Donald Trump. (Photo: Getty Images)
Joe Exotic and Lil Wayne had both hoped for pardons from President Donald Trump. Only one of them received one. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black (under their real names Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. and Bill K. Kapri) were on the last-minute list. However, Joe Exotic — whose team had a limo waiting outside his prison just in case — didn’t get so lucky.

Wayne, who was granted clemency, had faced up to 10 years in prison for taking a .45-caliber Glock handgun and ammunition on his private plane in 2019. The rapper wasn’t allowed to own the gun because he had previously been convicted on felony charges of possessing a weapon and drugs. He pleaded guilty in the case in December and was expected to be sentenced later this month — though to a much reduced sentence because of his plea.

The "Lollipop" rapper, who wrote in his 2016 book, Gone Til November, that he would watch Celebrity Apprentice in prison when he previously did time, very publicly endorsed Trump just ahead of the contentious 2020 election — and even met with the president at the White House to discuss prison reform.

Similarly, Black, who has an extensive criminal history, received a commutation of his prison sentence on firearms charges. He has been serving a three-year federal sentence after pleading guilty to falsifying info on federal documents used to buy guns from a Miami gun store in 2019. At the time of his conviction, he was out on bond for sexual assault charges in South Carolina. He also later pleaded guilty to weapons possession for a separate 2019 arrest on a gun charge at the border between the United States and Canada.

Black’s lawyer, Bradford Cohen, was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice in 2009.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic of Tiger King fame, didn’t get the pardon he has publicly been seeking for months. The former zoo operator has been serving 22 years in prison for attempting to hire a hitman to kill rival Carole Baskin, as well as for animal abuse.

Maldonado-Passage’s legal team was so hopeful their client would be pardoned that they stationed a limo near his prison, FMC Fort Worth, to pick him up. Eric Love, a representative for Maldonado-Passage, even made a video to send to a local news station.

Despite not getting the pardon, Maldonado-Passage’s lead counsel said Wednesday that they are committed to freeing him. “It is the president’s constitutional right to pardon and we have to accept and respect his use of discretion,” Francisco Hernandez tweeted. “Our mission is just and continues.”

Also on Trump’s pardon list was Desiree Perez who is the CEO of Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z. She had been arrested in 1994 for drug possession and in 1998 for grand larceny and possession of a firearm. And at least five pardons, on the list of 73 pardons and 70 sentence commutations, were recommended by Alice Marie Johnson, whose own life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction was commuted by Trump in 2018 after Kim Kardashian urged him to do so.

On Tuesday, Trump commuted the prison sentence of Death Row Records’s co-founder Michael “Harry-O” Harris, who was convicted of attempted murder and cocaine trafficking. Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr., had lobbied for Trump to do so.

“That’s great work for the president and his team on the way out,” Snoop told the New York Post. They did some great work while they was in there and they did some great work on their way out. Let them know that I love what they did.” A White House official told the Associated Press that Trump attended several meetings on the subject of who to pardon, among the many people who applied, over the weekend. His daughter, Ivanka, was reportedly also instrumental in the discussions as was son-in-law Jared Kushner.

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