The feud escalated when Mr. Maldonado-Passage renamed his cat shows “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment,” a name similar to Ms. Baskin’s sanctuary, “Big Cat Rescue.” Ms. Baskin won a $1 million lawsuit against him over the name dispute, and he filed for bankruptcy because he could not afford his legal fees, prosecutors said.
“It was a rivalry made in heaven,” the court ruling said.
Mr. Maldonado-Passage decided to retaliate by hiring two people in 2017 to kill Ms. Baskin in Florida, a federal jury found. He paid his zoo employee, Alan Glover, $3,000 to travel to Tampa and cut off Ms. Baskin’s head.
But Mr. Glover “got no further than partying on Florida beaches,” the appeals court ruling said.
A month later, Mr. Maldonado-Passage offered a $10,000 payment to a man who turned out to be an undercover F.B.I. agent. He was arrested in 2018.
“Despite all his efforts, Maldonado-Passage’s murderous plans failed,” the court ruling said.
Mr. Maldonado-Passage now awaits a new sentence as he languishes in a Texas prison, the same place where he tried and failed to persuade President Donald Trump to pardon him. He’s hoping that President Biden will free him.
“President Biden, if you are listening,” Mr. Maldonado-Passage said in the recording, “this is the time that you need to be a world hero and sign that pardon.”
John M. Phillips, another lawyer for Mr. Maldonado-Passage, said in a statement that his team has new evidence that could change the outcome of the case. The lawyer claims that Ms. Baskin’s husband, Howard Baskin, had spoken years ago with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about infiltrating Mr. Maldonado-Passage’s zoo.