‘Tiger King’ Star Charged With Money Laundering By Feds

By - June 8, 2022
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‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle was charged this week with money laundering and could get up to 20 years in federal prison.

Antle, 62, allegedly laundered at least $500,000, which is thought to be proceeds of a human smuggling operation to bring illegal aliens across the Mexican border into the US. It also is believed that Antle worked closely with his partner Andrew Sawyer, 52, over a several-month period to launder the money.

The federal government alleges that the two men would launder the money by giving checks that claimed they were compensation for construction jobs being done at Antle’s 50-acre property called Myrtle Beach Safari. However, the checks were just a way for the illegals to look like they have legitimate income. Each of the men received about 15% of the money they laundered.

Federal agents allege that Antle was attempting to hide the money he got by boosting the number of people who visit his safari property. In years past, he relied on bulk cash receipts to purchase animals when he couldn’t use checks, the federal complaint reads.

Antle has been featured as a rival of Joe Exotic Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. The 2020 documentary series is about private zoo operators and tiger breeders in the US. The show focuses a lot of Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Exotic, who also has been targeted by the feds for animal mistreatment. He also was convicted of trying to kill a rival named Carole Baskin.

He was placed under arrest by the FBI this week and booked into a jail in South Carolina.

More Charges Against Antle Have Surfaced In Recent Years

The money-laundering accusations aren’t Antle’s only brush with the law recently. In 2021, he was arrested for engaging in the illegal trafficking of lion cubs between South Carolina and Virginia.

The well-known ponytailed zoo owner was hit with 15 animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges, according to the Virginia attorney general. The agency spent several months looking into Antle’s safari property in South Carolina. They also investigated the Wild Animal Park based in Winchester, Virginia, which Antle’s partner Keith Wilson owns.

Federal investigators say they determined that the men were in violation of the Endangered Species Act. They moved the exotic animals between the two properties in deplorable conditions. Wilson also was charged by the feds for trafficking.

In total, the wildlife star was charged with conspiracy to wildlife traffic, wildlife trafficking, and 13 other misdemeanors that are related to the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty.

In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals requested that the IRS look at Antle’s Rare Species Fund, which is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for wildlife conservation. PETA says he used some money from the fund to pay for his safari property.

A PETA representative said this month that it’s good that ‘Doc’ Antle is being prosecuted after ‘locking up the rare animals he uses in his tawdry photo ops.’ PETA said that Antle’s legal problems are growing because PETA recently called him out for what it called a ‘charity scam.’

Antle has a long list of violations going back to the 1980s. In 1989, he was fined by the Department of Agriculture for abandoning peacocks and deer at his Virginia zoo. He also has been cited by the USDA 35 times for treating animals improperly.

Antle Has Been The Topic Of Several Netflix Shows

Fans of Antle got a close look at his life in another Netflix show called Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story, which came out in December 2021. He said during the trailer for the show that he runs a fantastic park with a lot of high-quality environments for the hundreds of animals.

He added that the only thing to see in the park is understanding, success, and ‘a team of people who make it their lift.’ However, others who were featured in the show didn’t hold back their negative opinions of the Tiger King.

Some said he ran a cult that would brainwash his fans, while others claimed he loved power most of all. One woman said that he has run an animal trafficking operation for so many years, he thinks he can get away with anything.

She added that after The Tiger King came out, several people contacted her with their own negative stories about Doc.

In the first Tiger King, which came out in March 2020, Doc was seen as a polygamist who had a cult of female workers and followers at the zoo. When the first show was released, Antle slammed the program and said the way he was portrayed was outrageous.

Antle also argued that the program was a ‘salacious show that was produced to make drama, to tie you into a crazy story between the feud of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.’

The show looks at the crimes and life of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who was once a country musician and zookeeper called Joe Exotic. He owned an animal park and said he had the biggest number of large cats in the US. He was convicted in 2019 for paying someone $3000 to kill Baskin.

Antle said when they shot the show, it was simply supposed to be about a wildlife conservatory and the work they did in Africa to save animals. It was supposed to be about how the tigers they have in the US have raised so much money they can make a new ranger station in Sumatra.

But Antle said the documentary he thought he was working on was ‘left on the cutting room floor.’

Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq

Geoffrey Nathan is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. He is a Boston criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience in felony, federal, and white-collar crimes. Board of Bar Overseers Number #552110