Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, the proprietor of an unique animal safari in South Carolina who gained recognition from the hit Netflix documentary sequence “Tiger King,” pleaded responsible Monday to wildlife trafficking and cash laundering prices, federal prosecutors mentioned.
Antley, 63, of Myrtle Seaside, South Carolina, oversaw the sale or buy of two cheetah cubs, two lion cubs, two tigers and a child chimpanzee, all protected below the Endangered Species Act, between September 2018 and Might 2020, in response to statement From the US Lawyer’s Workplace for the District of South Carolina.
Prosecutors mentioned that violated the Lacey Act, a legislation prohibiting the trafficking of illegally stolen wildlife.
Antley additionally pleaded responsible to conspiracy to launder cash, prosecutors mentioned.
“Antle used massive money funds to hide transactions and cast paperwork to indicate non-business transfers fully inside a single state,” prosecutors mentioned. “Antle additionally requested funds for endangered species to his non-profit in order that they would seem as ‘donations.’”
Antle is finest recognized for the 2020 Netflix documentary sequence “Tiger King: Homicide, Mayhem and Insanity,” which featured him, a South Carolina safaris and its large cats.
He’s the proprietor and operator of Myrtle Seaside Safari, often known as the Institute for Endangered and Uncommon Species, TIGERS, prosecutors mentioned. The safari is a 50-acre nature protect that gives excursions and the chance for personal encounters with wildlife, prosecutors mentioned.
Prosecutors mentioned Antle can be the director of a non-profit group registered in South Carolina referred to as the Uncommon Species Fund.
Along with bushfire trafficking, the investigation additionally uncovered proof of cash laundering operations dedicated between February 2022 and April of that 12 months.
That occurred when Antley and one of many co-conspirators “performed monetary transactions with money they believed was obtained from transporting and harboring unlawful aliens,” prosecutors mentioned.
“To hide and obscure the unlawful nature of the money, Antley and his confederate would take the cash they acquired and deposit it into financial institution accounts they managed. They might then write a test to the person who offered the money after charging a 15% price for every transaction,” prosecutors mentioned.
In June of this 12 months, the jury additionally did so Antley was acquitted of five counts of animal cruelty.
“The defendant described himself as a conservationist, however repeatedly violated legal guidelines defending endangered animals after which tried to cowl up these violations,” Assistant Lawyer Basic Todd Kim of the Justice Division’s Setting and Pure Sources Division mentioned within the assertion.
He continued: “This trial demonstrates our dedication to combating the unlawful commerce that threatens the survival of endangered animals.”
Legal professionals for Antle weren’t instantly accessible for remark Monday.
Prosecutors mentioned Antley faces a most of 5 years in jail, fines of as much as $250,000 and three years of supervised launch on every rely.