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Florida Man Who Dragged Shark To Death Is Sentenced

by : Cameron Frew on : 17 Sep 2019 11:04

Warning: Contains Distressing Footage

Florida Man Drags Shark To Death ThumbFlorida Man Drags Shark To Death ThumbHillsborough County Sheriff/Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission
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Two years after a video of him dragging a shark to death from a speedboat went viral, a Florida man has been sentenced to 10 days in jail. 

According to Hillsbourgh County jail records and his attorney, Robert Lee Benac, now 30, was charged on Friday (September 13) with one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.

As reported by the the Tampa Bay Times, Benac was initially facing two felony charges of aggravated animal cruelty before accepting a plea deal which saw him pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges and a violation of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rules.

Check out the news report ahead of the case. Warning: some viewers may find it distressing:

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Along with the 10-day sentence, Benac is facing 11 months of probation, a $2,500 fine and he must perform 250 hours of community service – 125 of which will be served at an animal shelter. his fishing licence was also revoked for three years.

The judge in the case withheld adjudication, which means Benac was not convicted, though the charge will still appear on his record.

Petredis told the Tampa Bay Times:

We were confident in what we could do and what we could show, but at the end of the day you can never be 100 percent confident in the jury system.

That was a worry, that the anger and emotions of the jury would outweigh where we were hoping common sense would take over.

Robert Lee Benac Shark-Dragging SuspectRobert Lee Benac Shark-Dragging SuspectHillsborough County Sheriff's Office

The video, taken on June 26, 2017, showed Benac, along with Michael Wenzel and Spencer Heintz, laughing while dragging a shark tied to the boat by a rope. A separate video also showed Wenzel shooting a shark Benac caught with a .38-calibre revolver.

It was all fun and games until they uploaded it to social media – and celebrity shark hunter, Mark ‘The Shark’ Quartiano, saw them and expressed his horror. He shared the videos, hoping the men would get caught.

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After the Fish and Wildlife Commission determined that the incident took place near Egmont Key, the three men were arrested in December 2017.

Shark-dragging Fish and Wildlife CommissionShark-dragging Fish and Wildlife CommissionFish and Wildlife Conservation Committee

Wenzel and Heintz also faced felony charges for animal cruelty. Robert Klepper, public information coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement told the Tampa Bay Times: ‘Because they first shot the shark, it warranted two separate charges for animal cruelty.’

In May 2018, charges were dropped against Heintz, while Wenzel took a similar plea deal to Benac, also receiving 10 days in jail and probation.

Under the sentence, Benac must serve three weekends in jail – he now has nine days left.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Florida, News, Sharks, US News

Credits

Tampa Bay Times
  1. Tampa Bay Times

    Last man sentenced in shark-dragging case. He’ll spend weekends in jail.