Tiger King's Bhagavan "Doc" Antle has been charged with federal money laundering crimes, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday.
The US Attorney's Office of South Carolina issued a press release on Monday revealing that Antle, 62, and his business associate Andrew Jon Sawyer, aka Omar Sawyer, 52, have been charged in a federal complaint with money laundering crimes involving over $500,000.
"The complaint alleges that over the last four months, Antle and Sawyer laundered $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," the statement reads.
According to the statement, Antle and Sawyer allegedly laundered cash by providing checks from a business controlled by Antle and a business controlled by Sawyer. The checks were said to be for construction work at Antle's Myrtle Beach Safari, when in reality they were "a means to allow the recipients to appear to have legitimate income." Antle and Sawyer then received a 15% fee from any amount laundered. They allegedly concealed the laundered income by inflating tourist numbers at the Myrtle Beach Safari.
If proven guilty, Antle and Sawyer face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. They were arrested on Friday and are currently detained.
Antle, who rose to fame after appearing in Netflix's Tiger King, was previously indicted by a Virginia Grand Jury on animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges in October 2020. He was charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. His trial for those charges is scheduled for this coming October.
Tiger King is currently streaming on Netflix.
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Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.