Tiger King star and operator of a zoo in South Carolina, Doc Antle, was brazen in his conversations about laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to secretly recorded conversations.
“I had to get a monkey but the people won’t take a check,” Antle told a federal criminal informant, according to a transcript of a recorded conversation obtained by Radar Online. “They only take cash. So what do you do? You have to be able to get the cash to go do it, and it’s hard to do.”
Late last week, Antle was arrested in Horry County, South Carolina, on allegations of federal money laundering. His business partner Andrew Sawyer was also charged. Both remain incarcerated at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.
Antle was featured on the Netflix Series Tiger King and operators the Myrtle Beach Safari outside of the popular tourist destination.
The arrest is not Antle’s first run-in with the law as Antle was accused of illegally trafficking animals. He has also come under fire from animal rights groups for the treatment of the creatures at his zoo. But the facility has become popular for both celebrities and social media influencers for its hands-on dynamic between visitors and the animals.
In October 2019, a confidential informant told the FBI about a member of the Myrtle Beach business community who laundered money and wanted help with a $200,000 check cashing venture, according to court documents obtained by Radar.
The launderer wanted help for Doc Antle by providing cash for a check, according to the docs. Federal investigators claim that is a tell-tale sign of money laundering.
Starting that month criminal informants worked with federal investigators and detailed conversations with Antle. Some of them were recorded and transcribed in the court record.
One informant told a business manager at the Safari that she could help with a $200,000 transaction, but it would be a 6 percent fee, according to the docs. The manager said she would relay to information to Antle.
The money launderer then contacted the informant and said Antle wanted to do a one-time delivery and asked if the fee could be reduced to 5 percent, according to the documents.
Over the next few months, there were recorded conversations between the launderer and the informant.
In November 2021, the informant met and spoke with Antle at the Safari. There, the informant asked Antle for assistance with laundering cash. Antle said he knew someone who could help, according to the docs.
CI: The reason I wanted to come talk to you and I wanted it to be private cuz I wanted to ask you something. I don’t know if you remember, a lont time ago you called me and wanted to deal with the doo grand.
Antle: Yeah, yeah, sure.
CI: You remember that? But I couldn’t do it so I got you the [person] but didn’t’ end up doing it well too. But right now, right now I’ve got about $350,000 cash and I have another 300 coming but it’s cash and it’s not drug money, so I don’t give a s***. [Myrtle Beach Launderer] does it with me all the time.
Antle: Yeah, yeah, [Myrtle Beach Launderer] told me.
CI: But I don’t know if you want to do something? If you want me to do something?
Antle: Because you’re ready to change some cash for check. I can write a check to…[your] company and it just goes in as though I bought [supplies from your company].
CI: Or if you have somebody that does that for you maybe you have some cash and you have somebody that gives you the check. I want to turn the money into my company, in my personal company. I have a personal company, like I have another company so I want to put the money cash into my company. I’m only asking cuz one time you asked me.
Antle: I had a quick deal too. I had to get a monkey but the people won’t take a check. They only take cash. So, what do you do? You have to be able to get the cash to go do it, and it’s hard to do.
CI: [Myrtle Beach Launderer] done it for me a couple times, but he can only do so much, you know?
Antle: Yeah, of course it gets tight. Are you trying to do it with regularity?
The conversation continued with Antle saying he knew a guy and told the people not to text, according to the docs. Though Antle said it was OK to talk on the phone cause the calls are not recorded.
“You got to be a major drug dealer or terrorists they are going to F*** you If you are a terrorist they are going to listen to your phone somehow then all the rules are off if you are AL-Queda,” Antle allegedly said.
DISCUSSIONS CONTINUE FOR MONTHS
Then, in December, an informant again met with Antle at the Safari, and again the conversation was recorded, according to the docs.
Antle: You need a system. A friend of mine had a couple great system. You run any other investments stuff? You run any investment properties or anything?
CI: I do properties, yeah, I do construction.
Antle: Do you do rents or anything?
CI: Yeah I do.
Antle: I know one guy was friends with me for a long time that always had extra cash. He did fabulous with it at a laundromat.
Days later, there was another conversation.
Antle: But she told me no problem for that, she will give you a check right now for 400K for 500 cash.
CI: Damn, that’s 20 percent.
Antle: I know, I know it’s not easy. She says everybody brokering right now is paying 15. That’s what she thinks. That everybody brokers cash pays 15. And she says some of the people that obviously some of the cash maybe got a little ink on it, maybe that stole it from a bank, she says a lot of that is 30-40 percent. But you know, that is what she is saying.
CI: Can she not negotiate it?
Antle: I can tell her 15, I think she’s gonna f*** around. She might do 15 but I don’t think so. I think she does this shit all the time you know.
Antle: I don’t know, I never did it. It’s not my business. I’m secondhand information. I don’t want you to feel like I am telling you I’m an expert cuz I don’t know s***. I just know that I talked with her before, and got cash for her before.
CI: No man, it’s fine. As long as it’s like you said. As long as it comes form you because I trust you.
Antle: Because you don’t have anything to lose. The only thing to lose if the money is counterfeit then they’ll come kill me. It will be all over if the money is counterfeit. These mother****** something explosive would happen.
FEDERAL CHARGES FILED
In February this year, the informant again met with Antle and Sawyer at the Safari. They had a lengthy conversation that included using foreign nationals to clean a house. They also discussed alleged money laundering and exchanging money. They planned to use a business cover to help hide their transaction, according to the docs.
In March, Antle met with the informant and talked about an illegal alien he thought the informant was smuggling into the country to work at the Safari. They discussed the operation and the informant delivered $115,000 cash as part of the reverse money laundering scheme, according to the docs.
During that meeting, feds say, Antle, Sawyer and the informant conducted a money laundering transaction. They did something similar in April, according to the docs. About 30 minutes after the transaction, Antle spoke to the informant on the telephone:
CI: Hey, just a question. You put on the check ‘Ape House,’ ‘Ape House.’ What you you want me to put on my books so it can match?
Antle: Yeah, you can just put ‘ape house.’ You can just put ‘…bathroom’ like we’re doing it for the green bathroom, the rainforest.
Antle: I just had to put something so I said Ohhh, we’ll just do that because ethat’s where we used [your company’s supplies] before in the ape house.
Federal agents alleged that Antle’s willingness to engage in money laundering is a federal crime. The FBI then set up a fake business and bank account. Between February 2022 and the present, the informant provided Antle and Sawyer transactions totaling more than $505,000, according to the docs.