Tiger King star Doc Antle faces 20 years in prison for laundering $500,000 he thought was the proceeds of a human trafficking ring, unsealed indictment alleges

  • Doc Antle, 62, one of the stars of the Netflix hit Tiger King is accused of taking part in a money laundering scheme involving human trafficking
  • Antle was indicted along with one of his employees, Andrew ‘Omar’ Sawyer, 52
  • The Tiger King star also thought that an FBI informant was bringing him a Brazilian woman to work in one of his safari parks
  • The feds say that Antle and King netted $73,500 for their role in the scheme
  • As part of the plan, Antle allegedly planned to lie about the number of tourists who were coming to his park as well as creating a fake construction project
  • Antle is still facing multiple charges of animal endangerment in Virginia 

Tiger King star Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle could be joining his former protégé Joe Exotic in prison.   

Antle, 62, has been charged with laundering more than half a million dollars, money federal prosecutors said Monday that he believed to be the proceeds of an operation that smuggled people across the Mexican border into the United States.

Charges against Antle and Andrew Jon Sawyer, 52, who goes by Omar and is one of Antle’s employees at Myrtle Beach Safari, were revealed during a federal court hearing in Florence, South Carolina.

Antle and Sawyer laundered $505,000 over a four-month period as part of a sting operation, federal prosecutors said. 

Tiger King star Doc Antle, 62, is charged with money laundering more than $500,000

Antle’s employee, Andrew ‘Omar’ Sawyer, is also charged in the scheme

The plan was initiated by federal agents who exchanged cash on three separate occasions with Antle and Sawyer.

According to the complaint unsealed in court Monday, in a December 2021 recorded conversation Antle was informed that the ‘cash to be washed is derivative of smuggling and harboring illegal immigrants into the United States.’

The informant cited in the documents tells Antle: ‘It’s not drug money. I bring people in Illegal people, to help work.’

According to the documents, Antle believed that the informant was bringing a female from Brazil to work at his safari park. 

During that conversation, Antle is told that the woman would be required to walk in a ‘tunnel’ from Mexico into the United States. 

This conversation was among the many that the feds recorded during their sting operation between an informant and William James Dallis, known as the ‘Myrtle Beach Launderer’ or ‘MBL’

Antle and Sawyer would cut checks from businesses they controlled, receiving a 15% fee of the money that passed through their hands.

The pair kept around $73,500 for the their troubles, the feds allege. 

Sawyer is referred to as ‘loyal’ by Antle on multiple occasions in the complaint. 

Sawyer is accused of obtaining cashier’s checks from a bank to aid in the laundering. He manages a landscaping company for Antle.    

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

Antle discussed his plan to conceal the cash he received by inflating tourist numbers at his 50-acre wildlife tropical preserve. Prosecutors also said he had previously used bulk cash receipts to purchase animals for which he could not use checks.

In one recorded conversation, Antle expresses his worry that the cash was counterfeit. 

He says: ‘If the money is counterfeit they’ll come kill me. It will be all over if the money is counterfeit. These motherf*****s, something explosive would happen.’ 

Antle does not identify who he thinks will come to kill him if the money is fake. 

Myrtle Beach Safari Park manager Moksha Bybee is mentioned in the documents as relaying information about a money laundering scheme to Antle

Myrtle Beach business man William James Dallis is known as the ‘Myrtle Beach Launderer’ in the criminal complaint

A third man was also taken into custody alongside, Antle and Sawyer, William James Dallis, who owns a contracting business in Myrtle Beach. 

According to the indictment, a confidential informant told agents in October 2019 that Antle was seeking to exchange a check for $200,000 for cash. 

The indictment reads: ‘This is a hallmark of money laundering and other illicit financial activity, as the person writing the check actually loses money for the benefit of having liquid cash that cannot be traced.’ 

The scheme, which also involved Dallis, did not materialize over disagreements about the timeframe and the fee for washing the money, but prompted the FBI’s investigation into Antle and Sawyer, according to the indictment. 

Ongoing criticism: Antle also faced criticism from PETA for allowing celebrity guests like Beyoncé, Floyd Mayweather, and Larsa Pippen to physically interact with wild animals

As part of the 2019 scheme, the informant relayed information about the money washing operation to Myrtle Beach Safari Park manager Moksha Bybee, according to documents.  

In Antle’s indictment, Dallis is known by the alias ‘Myrtle Beach Launderer.’ 

In March 2021, Dallis told the informant that Antle had previously wanted to initiate a $2 million laundering scheme but Dallis refused saying it would ‘throw up every red flag in my book.’

In August of that year, Dallis told the informant that Antle makes ‘millions and millions and millions.’ While Dallis also told the informant to communicate via phone calls rather than text as it was harder for law enforcement to get warrants to listen to phone calls, the indictment states.  

Records for the Horry County jail show Antle and Sawyer were both arrested Friday. Attorneys for both men did not immediately comment on the charges when reached via email.

Both Antle and Sawyer will remain in custody until their respective bond hearings on Thursday. The US Attorney’s office recommends that both remain detained.  

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

Dallis is also charged with money laundering. He has been released on a $75,000 bond. 

His claim to fame: Antle found worldwide fame after he was featured in the 2020 Netflix documentary Tiger King

Antle is featured prominently in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a 2020 Netflix documentary miniseries that focused on tiger breeders and private zoo operators in the U.S. The series focused heavily on Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Exotic, who also was targeted for animal mistreatment and was convicted in a plot to kill a rival, Carole Baskin.

Animal rights advocates have accused Antle of mistreating lions and other wildlife. He was indicted in Virginia in 2020 on animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges.

In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the IRS to probe Antle´s Rare Species Fund, a nonprofit raising money for wildlife conservation. PETA alleges he uses some of the fund´s money to subsidize his safari site in Socastee outside Myrtle Beach.

‘It´s fitting that `Doc’ Antle is behind bars after years of locking up the endangered animals he uses in tawdry photo ops. His legal woes are mounting, as PETA recently blew the whistle on his apparent `charity´ scam, and the end to his reign of terrorizing tiger cubs can´t come soon enough,’ said Debbie Metzler, associate director of PETA´s Captive Animal Law Enforcement division, in a statement.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Antle is facing two felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to wildlife trafficking charges, as well as 13 misdemeanor 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 recorded violations, going as far back as 1989, when he was fined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia. Over the years, he has more than 35 USDA violations for mistreating animals.

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