After more than three weeks at large, the owner of a former Charlestown zoo has been arrested in upstate New York.
Tim Stark of Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed Inc. was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Washington County, New York, Jail, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced Thursday.
Hill’s office filed a lawsuit to close the zoo, leading to what has become a contentious court battle that resulted in warrants for Stark’s arrest. Since the state filed suit in February, officials allege Stark has repeatedly made efforts to interfere with court orders, including efforts to block a state inspection of the zoo and to hide animals from a court-ordered removal team. Stark has also seemingly incited violence against state officials in profanity-laced videos on Facebook.
Backed by a ruling from Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer, 161 animals were removed from Stark’s Charlestown property last month, according to Hill’s office. The Indianapolis Zoological Society was appointed receiver over the animals.
However, about $50,000 worth of animals are still missing. The state alleged Stark intentionally hid them, and Dreyer held him in contempt.
The zoo owner, who has been in the popluar Netflix series “Tiger King,” is also facing criminal charges in Clark County for allegations of battery and intimidation against a deputy attorney general involved in the state inspection. That case is State of Indiana v. Timothy Stark, 10C03-2009-F6-001273.
Online court records do not show any entries in the criminal case since the warrant was issued Sept. 29. The Marion County warrant was issued Sept. 16.
Last week, the state asked Dreyer to set hearings on further sanctions in the Marion County case. Hill’s office is seeking default judgment against Stark and the zoo as a contempt sanction and judicial dissolution of WIN, a nonprofit.
Dreyer agreed to the hearings and scheduled the sanctions hearing for Nov. 4. The dissolution hearing is scheduled to span three days on Dec. 18, 21 and 22.
Stark is proceeding pro se in both cases, as are his codefendants in the state case – WIN and another zoo officer, Melisa Lane. Both the zoo and Lane were once represented by New Albany lawyer J. Clayton Culotta, who has since withdrawn as their counsel.
The AG office’s case is State of Indiana v. Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed, Inc., Timothy Stark and Melisa Lane, 49D10-2002-PL-006192.
“This is just the beginning of a process that we hope will lead to Stark being held accountable for his wrongdoings,” Hill said in a Thursday statement following the arrest. “We look forward to Stark’s extradition to Indiana so that he may have his day in court.”
Stark and the zoo are also facing trouble in federal court, where they received an adverse judgment in a case brought by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Also this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked Stark’s federal exhibitor’s license.