Robert Lee “Bo” Benac III, 28, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and accepted a plea deal that reduced the charge to a misdemeanor, the Bradenton Herald reported.
The 28-year-old was one of three men who were charged. The other two were Michael Wenzel, 21, and Spencer Heintz, 23. However, Heintz’s charges were dropped.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was notified in 2017 after a video showing a group of men laughing while dragging a shark with a speedboat, the Herald reported.
After the incident, other videos of the same group of men were found, one of which showed Wenzel shooting a shark with a .38-caliber revolver, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“After the shark is shot,” the affidavit reads, “all occupants are heard celebrating by laughing while Heinz yells, ‘Get it again! Get it again!’”
The video gained attention after Miami charter fisherman Mark Quartiano, who goes by the name “Mark the Shark,” posted it on Instagram, saying two Instagram users had sent it to him. He told CNN he was “horrified” by the video and posted it in hopes the men would be caught.
Justin Petredis, Benac’s attorney, said his client took the plea deal because the video went viral.
“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,” Petredis said. “That was a worry, that the anger and emotions of the jury would outweigh where we were hoping common sense would take over.”
Benac was sentenced to 10 days in jail, which is to be served on weekends, and 11 months of probation.
He must serve three weekends in jail. This past weekend was his first, his lawyer said on Sept. 16.
The judge also ordered him to pay a $2,500 fine and do 250 hours of community service—half of the time will be spent in animal shelters.
Benac’s fishing license was also revoked for three years, Petredis said.
The judge in the case withheld adjudication, which means Benac was not convicted, though the charge will still appear on his record, Petredis said.
Given a similar plea deal as Benac, Wenzel received 10 days in jail and probation, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
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