By Staff

(CBSDFW.COM) – The Canadian national who overstayed his visa to work as a keeper of exotic cats, Paul Michael Malagerio was sentenced to two years in federal prison for a gun crime.

Following two days of trial, in March, a federal jury convicted the 65-year-old of unlawful alien in possession of firearms. He was sentenced on July 15 by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix.

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At trial, agents testified that they arrested Malagerio based on an administrative warrant for visa overstay at the Whitley Acres Exotic Ranch in Levelland, Texas in November 2020. Inside his RV, they found an AR-15, a shotgun, and a 9 mm pistol. Malagerio also had a mountain lion on the property. (Malagerio’s unlawful presence in the country prevented him from possessing firearms.)

In jailhouse phone calls, Malagerio indicated that he knew he was in the United States illegally: “So I’m guilty of it, but can we plead where I can go and pack my stuff, my animals… and leave with my tail between my legs?” he asked.

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During a court proceeding in February, Malagerio testified that he worked for James Garretson, the exotic cat enthusiast turned FBI informant featured in Netflix’s “Tiger King.”

In another jailhouse call, Malagerio claimed that Garretson had reported him to immigration authorities, telling a friend, “see, James [Garretson] is the only one that knows where I am and he threatened to do this about a month ago.”

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