FLORENCE, S.C. — Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has been charged with laundering more than half a million dollars, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed Monday.
Sixty-two-year-old Antle, a Myrtle Beach animal trainer, garnered national attention after appearing in the fan-favorite Netflix docuseries, “Tiger King.”
According to authorities, the charges stem from Antle’s alleged role in a scheme to receive kickbacks by helping people exchange checks for cash, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Antle was charged alongside his Myrtle Beach Safari employee Andrew Jon Sawyer, 52.
A criminal complaint, unsealed in a South Carolina federal court Monday, accused Antle and Sawuer of laundering $505,000 in cash “they believed to be the proceeds of an operation to smuggle illegal immigrants across the Mexican border into the United States,” according to a news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of South Carolina.
Prosecutors alleged that Antle and Sawyer disbursed the funds via checks from businesses they controlled, receiving a 15% fee from each transaction.
The checks falsely stated, however, that they were remitted for construction work at the Myrtle Beach safari, WBTW reported.
According to prosecutors, Antle and Sawyer reaped more than half a million dollars in fees between February and May of this year by cutting checks to a third party who was actually a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant, the Journal reported,
Both the criminal complaint and charges were formally filed June 1, the newspaper reported, noting that Antle and Sawyer each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Antle is also facing charges in Virginia of wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty, the Journal reported.
©2022 Cox Media Group