Tiger King star Doc Antle accused of money laundering £400,000

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Doc Antle in Netflix’s Tiger King  (netfliix)
Doc Antle in Netflix’s Tiger King (netfliix)

Tiger King star Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle has been charged with laundering more than half a million dollars (£400,000).

Federal prosecutors said Monday they believed the alleged money laundering to be the proceeds of an operation to smuggle people across the Mexican border into the United States.

Antle was a prominent character in Netflix’s Tiger King which followed Oklahoma zoo owner Joe Exotic and animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

The show became a cultural phenomenon in March 2020, propelling Antle into the limelight.

Charges against Antle and Andrew Jon Sawyer, one of Antle’s employees at Myrtle Beach Safari, were disclosed during a federal court hearing in Florence, South Carolina.

Prosecutors allege Antle and Sawyer laundered $505,000 (£402,798) over a four-month period by giving out cheques from businesses they controlled, receiving a 15% cut of the money.

The cheques, prosecutors claim, falsely purported to be payments for construction work at Myrtle Beach Safari but were in reality intended to serve as evidence that the recipients had legitimate income.

The indictment states Antle discussed his plan to conceal the cash he received by inflating tourist numbers at his 50-acre wildlife tropical reserve.

Prosecutors also said he had previously used bulk cash receipts to purchase animals for which he could not use cheques.

According to authorities, Antle and Sawyer each face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted.

In separate legal troubles in Virginia, Antle is facing two charges of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic wildlife as well as 13 counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges tied to trafficking lion cubs.

Those charges are scheduled to go to trial next month.

Antle has a history of convictions going as far back as 1989 when he was fined by the US department of agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia.

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