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Politics

Shark-Dragging Investigation Incomplete but 'Very Much Alive'

November 20, 2017 - 6:00am
Shark video clips from FOX13
Shark video clips from FOX13

Four months after the Facebook posting of a disturbing 11-second video showing a shark being hauled alive behind a speedboat, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's investigation of the incident remains incomplete.

"What we discovered was, many of the (alleged animal abuse) violations photographed happened in Hillsborough County," Robert Klepper, FWC spokesman told Sunshine State News.

That means the FWC is working with the 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), as well as the 12th Judicial Circuit (Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties) to determine the status of the violations that may have occurred.

Klepper said it isn't unusual that such an involved investigation would take so long. "All I can tell you is, the case is progressing, nobody has dropped the ball. It's all very much alive."

Andrew H. Warren, state attorney for Hillsborough, was unavailable Friday.

Ed Brodsky, state attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, echoed Klepper in a written statement. “These investigations are complex, and the FWC and both state attorney’s offices appreciate the public’s understanding and patience. We take these incidents seriously, and this investigation is moving forward.”

The oft-repeated video posted in late July shows the dragged shark hitting the surface of the water and flipping around before the cameraman turns the lens to show three men on the boat, laughing and pointing at the animal. One can be heard saying, "Look, it’s already almost dead."

The posting went viral overnight. Public outrage was immediate. So was the cry to sign a Change.org petition demanding the men responsible have their fishing licenses permanently revoked, serve time in jail and complete 1,000 hours of community service "to teach these young men to treat our Florida wildlife with respect."

And the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) jumped on an investigation. (The FWC case number is FWSW17OFF012872.) Though the agency was cautious -- some say too cautious -- and declined to release the names of the men aboard the boat, several angry people posted two of their names on Facebook. Manatee County residents recognized them as Michael Wenzel (the boat's pilot) and Robert Lee ‘Bo’ Benac. 

These are well-connected young men. Wenzel’s father is Robert Wenzel, Manatee County Planning Section manager; Benac’s mother is Betsy Benac, chairwoman of the Manatee County Commission. Neither parent returned my phone call.

Several other photos of suspected abused marine animals were found on the men's social media websites. 

It's not too late, Brodsky said, for anyone with evidence to submit it to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or Tip@MyFWC.com.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments

Well, Casey Athony is still free and partying and she killed her daughter as sure as Ted Kennedy killed Mary Jo, as sure as OJ killed whats her name. Money. Look at the assholes in Tx that got their miserable kid off multiple murder charges because they had so much money he didn't know that killing people was off the list of things he could do. This is a wildlife violation and, as such, does not carry the penalties most of us wish they did. Money is the way to hurt jerkoffs like this. It's the only thing they care about. Don't worry, their parents have stolen enough taxpayer money to pony up. Makes you wish Gus and Woodrow were still riding the range. Little bastards would have been hung in 15 minutes just because they thought it in everyone's interest to be rid of them. Gus always regretted not killing Blue Duck on the river that day. In this more "civilized?" time, vote Ed Brodsky out of office. Give the rest of the pondscum suckers something to think about.

If it had been a human who was tortured and killed would these degenerates still be free?

Watch closely Folks,..this is exactly how "serial killers" are developed.... No empathy, common sense, or 'feeling' for ANYTHING or ANYONE other than themselves ( PROTECT your pets, your kids, and yourselves; be ever vigilant !)

typical case of who you know... asking for more evidence when all they need is right in front of them is a typical delay and divide tactic. This is a clear case of politically well-connected people getting a better deal than what regular citizens would get... In a word, disgusting!

So 4 rich, spoiled, asshole kids think torturing animals is hysterical. Probably tortured cats and dogs when they were kids before someone bought them boat and gave them a credit card to buy gas, beer and ice. There is a video of it. There were other complaints and people that witnessed other nasty offenses. And the case is still under investigation? Bottom line is that these kids are world class jerks that need to get yanked up hard on a short chain. Screw them with money. No boats. No beer. 30 days in county. But still, it is a fish. Not Kaylee Anthony. Maybe we should get DC involved You know, a special prosecutor. That would take a couple years. Thing to do here is figure out how much the market will bear. Would the asshole parents of the asshole kids pony up $100,000 each to make this go away?

At least the case is still alive more that what can be said for the shark. These three need to be placed in jail, notwithstanding their parents political positions. Also their fishing license permanently revoked with the stipulation that "IF" caught fishing or any form wildlife capturing whatsoever. Automatic 5 years in the state prison, no time off for good behavior 5 years!!! That should wake these yahoo's up! Any official reading this that has any kind of input to their sentencing should seriously consider what I've outlined as punishment for what they've done. Let me put it this way. Would you let a child predator move in next to a school??? The next step for these cowards will be to experiment with land animals then humans. Stop it before it get to that point!!

It certainly appears the parents of these little boys had no ability to actually parent their children while growing up, hence, their 11 seconds of fame. Too bad State Attorney Ed Brodsky has allowed this case to linger on without bringing these guys to court and charging them for their misdeeds! Apparently, Brodsky is more concerned about the politics than the law! The people should remember his dragging this case along when he's up for election to any post! Meanwhile these guys continue acting with poor behavior and partying without fearing any consequences.

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