Man who dragged shark to death in viral video is sentenced
A man involved in a viral video showing him laughing and smiling as a shark gets dragged to death behind a high-speed boat in Florida was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Robert Lee Benac, now 30, was charged Friday with one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, according to Hillsbourgh County jail records and his attorney, Justin Brent Petredis.
The court dropped one charge and reduced the other to animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, Petredis told CNN on Monday.
Along with his 10-day jail sentence, which he must serve on weekends, Benac was given 11 months of probation and a $2,500 fine, according to the newspaper. He must also perform 250 hours of community service, 125 of which will be served at an animal shelter.
The video, taken June 26, 2017, showed Benac and two other men laughing while dragging the shark, which was visibly struggling as it repeatedly hit the water. One of the men said the shark looked “almost dead.”
According to Florida wildlife investigators, the shark was shot before being dragged to death.
The video gained attention after Miami charter fisherman Mark Quartiano, who goes by “Mark the Shark,” posted it on Instagram and said 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.
Under the sentence, Benac must serve three weekends in jail. This past weekend was his first, his lawyer said Monday.
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.
Michael Wenzel and Spencer Heintz, the other two men from the video, were also charged with two felony counts before the charges against Heintz were dropped, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
Given a similar plea deal as Benac, Wenzel received 10 days in jail and probation, the paper said.
CNN’s Tina Burnside, Doug Criss and Samira Said contributed to this report.