Gulf of Mexico
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission is investigating the contents of a video that shows a hooked shark being dragged at high speeds behind an outboard-powered boat. Screenshots from video acquired by FWC.

Shark dragger gets ‘slap on the wrist’ in Florida

A Florida commercial and charter fisherman has pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges and faces 10 days in jail over a video that shows him dragging a shark behind his boat at a high speed. The video went viral in the summer of 2017.

Michael Wenzel, 22, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 28 while appearing in front of a Hillsborough County judge, accepting an offer from the state that will reduce one of his felony counts to a first-degree misdemeanor charge and drop a second felony charge.

Wenzel was sentenced to 11 months of probation and 10 days in the Hillsborough County jail. He will serve on weekends starting March 8 and will be released on Sundays. He must also complete 100 hours of community service — half of which must be served at an animal shelter. His commercial fishing license will be suspended for five years.

Robert Benac, 29, the other suspect who was facing felony charges of aggravated animal cruelty, rejected the state’s offer to reduce one of the two felony charges to a misdemeanor if he served 10 days in jail. Benac instead chose to go to trial on June 24. He is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years if found guilty on the felony charges he’s facing.

Read full article . . .