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Environmental Crimes Bulletin January 2024 Week 1

In this issue:

United States v. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, et al., No. 4:22-CR-00580 (D.S.C.), ECS Senior Trial Attorney Patrick Duggan, AUSAs Derek A. Shoemake and Amy Bower, and ECS Paralegal Jillian Grubb

On January 4, 2024, Andrew Sawyer pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering (18 U.S.C. § 371).

Sawyer is a chimpanzee keeper for Bhagavan “Doc” Antle. Antle is the owner and operator of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), also known as the Myrtle Beach Safari, a 50-acre wildlife tropical preserve offering tours and private encounters with exotic wildlife. Antle also is the Director of the Rare Species Fund. Between 2018 and 2020, Antle bought and sold cheetah cubs, lion cubs, tigers, and a chimpanzee using false paperwork and “sham” donations to hide the illegal transactions.

Between February and April 2022, Sawyer conspired with Antle to launder $505,000 by receiving cash obtained from harboring illegal aliens, depositing that cash in bank accounts, taking a fee, and then writing checks to individuals that appeared to be for construction-related work, although no such work had been performed in exchange for those checks.

Antle pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act and to conspiracy to launder money (18 U.S.C. § 371).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement conducted the investigation.


United States v. Northridge Construction Corp., et al., Nos. 2:23-CR-00486, 00491 (E.D.N.Y.), ECS Senior Trial Attorneys Dan Dooher and RJ Powers, ECS Trial Attorney Rachel Robert, and ECS Law Clerk Amanda Backer

On January 5, 2024, Northridge Construction Corporation pleaded guilty to violating the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) (29 U.S.C. § 666(e)). Sentencing is scheduled for April 3, 2024.

In 2018, a Northridge employee died after falling from an improperly secured roof during the construction of a shed. OSHA regulations require companies and employers to maintain the stability of a metal structure during construction. Northridge pleaded guilty to violating this worker safety standard and to making two false statements that obstructed OSHA’s investigation into the employee’s death.

Richard Zagger, a company superintendent, was indicted in November on conspiracy and obstruction of official proceedings relating to this investigation (18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 1505).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted the investigation.

Updated February 14, 2024