Florida Men Charged With Animal Cruelty For Dragging Shark With Speed Boat

3 Florida Men Charged With Animal Cruelty For Dragging Shark With Speed Boat

The investigation into the video and additional social media posts "involving shocking disregard for Florida's natural resources" led to the filing of charges, according to a news release.

The three men have each been charged with two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

"Because they first shot the shark, it warranted two separate charges for animal cruelty", explained Robert Klepper, public information coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Division of Law Enforcement. It is our hope these charges will send a clear message to others that this kind of behaviour involving our fish and wildlife will not be tolerated'. "We thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for their work in investigating these crimes, and we stand with them, along with Florida's fishing and hunting communities, and all those who cherish our precious natural resources, in condemning the torture of our marine wildlife", said Andrew H. Warren, State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit.

Wenzel and Benac also face a misdemeanor count of taking a shark illegally.

The men face a maximum possible sentence of ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Wenzel was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 12:30 p.m. and freed at 7 p.m. after posting $4,250 bail, according to records.

Photo shows, from left, Michael Wenzel, Robert Benac, and Spencer Heintz.

3 Florida Men Charged With Animal Cruelty For Dragging Shark With Speed Boat

But after that is another video showing Wenzel operating the boat while the shark is dragged across the water at a high rate of speed and the men are laughing, the affidavit says.

The investigation found that prior to being dragged behind the boat, the shark had been shot.

As New Times and multiple other media outlets noted in July, Wenzel and his friends had a habit of posting frightful images of themselves holding dead or abused animals, including posing with a captured pelican and holding what they claimed was a dead dog they were about to use as bait.

Heintz's criminal history includes minor boating infractions while Wenzel has a prior arrest for underage drinking. carrying a concealed weapon and possession of false identification.

Rick Scott, the governor of Florida issued a statement after charges announced, CBS affiliate WJAX-TV reported, "I was outraged by the sickening video of a shark being horribly abused earlier this year".




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