Tiger King star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has been granted release from prison.
The zoo operator and animal trainer was arrested earlier this month by the FBI in Horry County, South Carolina. He has since been charged with money laundering over half a million dollars.
On Monday (June 27), a federal judge set a $250,000 secured bond for the park owner, meaning his release will be granted once the fee is paid.
According to the Associated Press, Antle’s release will take a day to process, after which he’ll be confined to his 50-acre wildlife preserve in Socastee.
Antle’s prosecutors have argued that the 62-year-old is a potential flight risk, due to his “significant financial resources” and “contacts that know how to make false identification documents,” while his lawyer stated that he has no previous convictions and that his medical conditions could “exacerbate the symptoms of COVID-19 should Antle contract the disease while he is incarcerated.”
According to federal prosecutors, Antle and his employee Andrew Jon Sawyer laundered $505,000 over a four-month period. They alleged that Antle planned to conceal excess cash from other businesses by inflating the numbers of tourists to visit his wildlife preserve, and that he’d previously used the laundered money to illegally obtain animals.
Antle and Swayer could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Sawyer was released earlier this month on a $100,000 bond.
In 2020, Antle denied allegations of wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty, saying: “I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species.
“I have deep regard and feelings for the animals in my care and would never hurt or abuse them.” A trial relating to the charges is set for July 2022.”
Last year, the zoo owner was the subject of the documentary Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story, which covered a host of other accusations brought against him.