A Florida man implicated in a viral video of a shark being dragged from the rear of a boat to its death accepted a plea deal that will land him in jail for only ten days, which he can serve on weekends.
Robert Benac III, 30, of Bradenton, and the son of Manattee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, also was fined $2,500 and ordered to perform 250 hours of community service at an animal shelter.
He was stripped of his fishing license for three years in the settlement with the Florida Fish & Conservation Commission and other prosecuting agencies, reports the Bradenton Herald.
Robert Benac III (left), 30, of Bradenton, Florida, and Michael Wenzel, 22, of Palmetto, were implicated in a viral video of a shark being dragged from the rear of a boat to its death
Men’s voices are heard laughing in the background as a shark (above) is dragged by its tail in the wake of a boat traveling at high speed in the shocking video that went viral after shark hunter Mark Quartino posted it on Instagram
Benac’s father, also Robert, when reached by DailyMail.com on Saturday, said he son was already serving his jail time.
‘He’ll be out Sunday evening,’ the father said, adding he was ‘disappointed’ over his son’s punishment.
‘This is not justice. Let’s leave it at that.’
Benac accepted the deal just as he was about to go to trial on Thursday on a more severe felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals that could have resulted in prison time.
Boat captain Michael Wenzel, 22, of Palmetto, also implicated in the July 2017 video, accepted a similar deal in February that required him to serve 10 days in jail over five weekends.
Robert Benac III, above, pictured with his mother, Manattee County Commissioner Betsy Benac. Benac’s father, also Robert, tells DailyMail.com that he is ‘disappointed’ with the punishment his son received over the shark video
Wenzel hung up when DailyMail.com reached out.
Charges in the animal cruelty case were dropped against a third man, Spencer Heintz, 24, also of Palmetto, due to a lack of evidence that he broke the law, and because he had been willing to testify against Benac and Wenzel, reports WFTS.
‘It’s all just too lenient. They must have some connections,’ Miami shark hunter Mark Quartino told DailyMail.com.
The video sparked an outcry from other anglers, animal rights activists and even Florida Governor Rick Scott after it was posted on Instagram by Quartino, 68.
‘It’s sick. It’s just today’s society,’ he told DailyMail.com.
Wenzel and Belac (above) in another social media post where they pour beer into the mouth of an Atlantic Goliath grouper
Quartino said he made the video public to expose the cruelty after the anglers initially forwarded the footage to him.
‘These guys are friends of mine on Instagram and when they did this with the shark, as soon as they did the video, they sent it to me to say, “Hey, look at what we did,” to get my approval,’ he said. ‘They didn’t.’
Men’s voices are heard laughing in the background as a shark is dragged by its tail in the wake of a boat traveling at high speed.
There were other posts, including one that shows Wenzel shooting at a black tip shark’s head with a handgun.
As the shark bled out, men are heard laughing in the video that was posted on Facebook. Another post shows the men pouring what appears to be beer into the mouth of an Atlantic Goliath grouper.
Quartino said the punishments served on Benac and Wenzel should have been more harsh.
‘It sends the wrong message to people doing the same things,’ the shark hunter said.
He insists his methods of killing the beasts are quicker and more humane.
‘What they did was horrific.’