March 2, 2017 (UPI) — A Florida-based commercial fisherman is facing 10 days imprisonment for pleading guilty in animal cruelty to a viral clip in which he drags a shark behind him at high speed.
Michael Wenzel pleaded guilty to two administrative first-degree charges of cruelty to animals, and using an illegal method for catching a shark. According to his lawyer, the felony charge was reduced to an absolute minimum because the shark expert stated that the shark in the video had already died.
Wenzel was also sentenced 11 months probation and 100 hours community service. His fishing license was suspended by Wenzel for five years.
22-year-old Wenzel was one of four men who were captured on video laughing and applauding as the boat they were riding dragged the shark’s tail. The video was condemned by the public and investigated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office.
Robert Lee Benak, Spencer Heinz and Spencer Heinz were also indicted. Heinz’s charges have been dropped and Benak has withdrawn from the plea agreement. He will be tried later in the year.
Animal rights activists who were present at the sentencing were not happy.
“This is a privileged kid,” Marie Galbraith of Tampa Bay Times, Florida Animal Voices member, said. It’s a slap on the face.
Charles Britt, Wenzel’s attorney, stated: “I have a clear perception that nothing less than a long sentence in prison would make these animal advocates satisfied.”
Famous March 2 Birthdays
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