Murder, mayhem, madness and now, money laundering—one of the stars of Netflix’s wildly popular Tiger King has been charged with laundering more than half a million dollars, according to federal prosecutors. The Guardian reports Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has been charged with laundering $505,000 along with Andrew Jon Sawyer, an employee at Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari.
The charges were revealed June 6 at a federal court hearing in Florence, South Carolina. Prosecutors claim that Antle and Sawyer laundered $505,000 across a four-month period. The duo did so through writing checks, falsely purported to be for construction work at Myrtle Beach Safari, and receiving a 15% fee from the laundered funds. Antle told prosecutors he believes those funds to be proceeds from an operation smuggling people across the U.S./Mexico border.
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A complaint unsealed in the hearing alleges that Antle planned to conceal the extra income by inflating visitor numbers at the 50-acre tropical wildlife preserve; he also used bulk cash receipts to purchase animals he could not purchase with checks.
Both Antle and Sawyer each face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Antle was a prominent character in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, the hit docu-series that captivated homebound audiences during the 2020 pandemic. Tiger King focused on tiger breeders and private zoo operations in the U.S., heavily centering on Joe Exotic, a former zookeeper and owner of the G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, in his bitter, long-time rivalry with big cat conservationist Carole Baskin.
This is Not Antle’s First Run-In with the Law
As fans of Tiger King already know, Doc Antle is no stranger to legal trouble. The private zoo owner, who also claimed to be an Eastern mystic, was indicted in October 2020 on charges of animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking. The docu-series revealed that Antle’s safari park had been raided by federal law enforcement in late 2019, where officers found numerous cases of animal cruelty.
The Guardian also notes that in addition to the animal cruelty and trafficking charges, Antle is facing 13 misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and has a history of recorded violations that stretches back as far as 1989.
Antle, who was outspokenly not a fan of how he was portrayed in the original Tiger King, was not part of the returning cast for the show’s second season. However, Antle is the primary subject of the show’s third season, aptly titled Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story.
A trial date has reportedly been set for July 2022; you can watch The Doc Antle Story on Netflix now.