Demand justice in boat shark dragging case: Max sentence and lifetime ban of fishing right
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Enough is enough!
This petition is asking the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to demand the maximum sentencing permissible under Florida law if convicted for the charges filed against Michael Wenzel, Robert Lee Benac and Spencer Heinz, and to NOT accept any plea bargaining for a lesser sentence. In addition, this petition is asking Hillsborough State Attorney's Office and The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to work together to permanently revoke the Recreational Hunting and Fishing licenses of Michael Wenzel, Robert Lee Benac and Spencer Heinz, and the commercial saltwater fishing license of Michael Wenzel.
In July of 2017, a disturbing shark dragging video surfaced and quickly went viral, resulting in public outrage and a demand for justice. It was immediately determined the video took place in Florida waters, off the west coast. Soon after the shark dragging video surfaced, additional photos of other animal cruelty and abuse cases also surfaced on social media that are reported to be linked specifically to one of the individual's responsible for the initial shark dragging video. It was quickly publicized that perhaps the shark dragging video was not an isolated incident, and this cruel and shocking abuse appears to be a pattern of behavior. It is reported in the media that specifically, Michael Wenzel has been the subject of past animal abuse investigations conducted by the FWC.
Here is a link to news coverage of the initial video:
Here's additional coverage of the same crew, different incident. This case involves a hammerhead shark being drowned with beer. Hammerheads are a no take, no harvest species of shark in Florida state waters.
In addition, a simple google search of "Michael Wenzel, shark dragging video" will link you to much more info on this case and other reported abuses.
The following is the FWC News Bulletin released on December 12, 2017:FWC charges 3 in connection to shark dragging video
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 12/12/2017 07:08 PM EST
For immediate release: Dec. 12, 2017 Media contact: Rob Klepper, 850-617-9666 or Robert.Klepper@MyFWC.com
Suggested Tweet: Three charged by @MyFWC in connection to #shark dragging video: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/1cbc181 #lawenforcement #Florida FWC charges 3 in connection to shark dragging video The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office announced charges against three individuals connected to a video of a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed. The charges resulted from a four-month long investigation into the video and other disturbing images on social media involving shocking disregard for Florida’s natural resources.
“As we’ve said since this video and other images came to light, these actions have no place in Florida, where we treasure and conserve our natural resources for everyone,” said Commission Chairman Bo Rivard. “We appreciate the patience and support of the public as our law enforcement investigators worked with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to identify a number of serious violations that will be brought to the courts for adjudication. It is our hope these charges will send a clear message to others that this kind of behavior involving our fish and wildlife will not be tolerated.”
“The State Attorney’s Office is committed to holding these men accountable for having engaged in such senseless and unjustifiable animal cruelty. 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.
During the course of the investigation, FWC officers confirmed numerous criminal violations, resulting in felony and misdemeanor charges. Investigators conducted exhaustive research into the suspects’ social media activity, conducted numerous interviews and spoke with a number of subject matter experts on sharks. The public can help by reporting suspected violations to the FWC. To make a report, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
The suspects and their charges are as follows: Michael Wenzel (DOB 06/07/1996) of Palmetto, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony). • One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark (Second-degree misdemeanor). Robert Lee Benac (DOB 04/2/1989) of Bradenton, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony). • One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take – Shark (Second-degree misdemeanor). Spencer Heintz (DOB 10/14/1994) of Palmetto, Florida • Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony).
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