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Suspect in viral 2017 shark dragging incident accepts plea deal

Posted at 10:47 AM, Feb 28, 2019

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — One of the suspects charged with aggravated animal cruelty after a viral shark dragging incident from July 2017 accepted a plea deal Thursday morning.

Before a Hillsborough County judge, Michael Wenzel changed his plea, reducing one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty to a misdemeanor charge and dropping the second felony charge against him.

Wenzel and Robert Lee Benac, another suspect in the case, both appeared at the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Thursday.


Wenzel and Benac were both charged after a four-month-long investigation into the graphic video of a shark being dragged behind a boat.


Wenzel, 22, was sentenced to 10 days in the Hillsborough County Jail. He will have to serve his time on weekends starting March 8. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, a $2,500 fine and his fishing license will be suspended for five years.

Benac, 29, will have his trial on June 24.