Arrests made in shark dragging case

Jack HexterJack Hexter New Port RicheyPosts: 4,304 Moderator
Arrests made in shark dragging case
After a four-month long investigation, three individuals have been arrested in connection to the video of a shark being dragged behind a boat at high speed. We worked with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to identify a number of criminal violations, including felony and misdemeanor charges. Full story: http://bit.ly/2z4TdOu

The suspects and their charges are as follows:

Michael Wenzel (D.O.B. 6/7/1996) of Palmetto, Florida:
-Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony)
-One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take (Second-degree misdemeanor)

Robert Lee Benac (D.O.B. 4/2/1989) of Bradenton, Florida:
-Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony)
-One misdemeanor count of Illegal Method of Take (Second-degree misdemeanor)

Spencer Heintz (D.O.B. 10/14/1994) of Palmetto, Florida:
-Two felony counts of Aggravated Animal Cruelty (Third-degree felony)
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Replies

  • StryderStryder Posts: 172 Deckhand
    Thanks for the update lets hope these jerks get max penalties.

    You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Wayne Gretzky

  • kellerclkellercl Posts: 2,722 Captain
    Awesome, glad to see it. To me it is an obvious example of animal cruelty.
  • Geno67Geno67 Posts: 148 Deckhand
    Glad to see it.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 9,217 Admiral
    Good to see justice. It was a stupid thing to do. At the same time I've dragged live fish behind my boat, not at that speed but at trolling speeds. I guess the difference is the size of the fish?
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 949 Officer
    The charges are probably not even related to the shark video but the other wildlife "and other disturbing images on social media involving shocking disregard for Florida’s natural resources."
  • kellerclkellercl Posts: 2,722 Captain
    Good to see justice. It was a stupid thing to do. At the same time I've dragged live fish behind my boat, not at that speed but at trolling speeds. I guess the difference is the size of the fish?

    I would argue the difference is intent. The video clearly shows the participants laughing with enjoyment. Their intent was pretty clear. The ridculous speed didnt help either. Nor did their previous behavior of tormenting birds and putting sharks in swimming pools.
  • Soda PopinskiSoda Popinski GrovelandPosts: 9,217 Admiral
    kellercl wrote: »
    I would argue the difference is intent. The video clearly shows the participants laughing with enjoyment. Their intent was pretty clear. The ridculous speed didnt help either. Nor did their previous behavior of tormenting birds and putting sharks in swimming pools.

    I agree they 100% acted like jack-zzes doing what they were doing. I just hope the charges clarify more than intent because arresting someone for intent is a slippery slope. They definitely deserve some form of punishment, I just don't really know what laws they broke. Cruelty to animals I guess? IDK. I'm not a LEO.
    People use statistics the way a drunk uses a street light, for support rather than illumination.
  • Eric BEric B Posts: 72 Greenhorn
    which one of these clowns was the ringleader?
  • mplspugmplspug Palmetto FloridaPosts: 7,143 Admiral
    Eric B wrote: »
    which one of these clowns was the ringleader?

    Michael Wenzel appears to be the ring leader or the stupidest of the 3 since he posted all the evidence of the other incidents. Bo Benac is a close second.

    Captain Todd Approves

  • tankardtankard Posts: 6,488 Admiral
    Soda Popinski nails it.

    My thoughts exactly.
  • TwinTurboJoshTwinTurboJosh Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    I agree they 100% acted like jack-zzes doing what they were doing. I just hope the charges clarify more than intent because arresting someone for intent is a slippery slope. They definitely deserve some form of punishment, I just don't really know what laws they broke. Cruelty to animals I guess? IDK. I'm not a LEO.

    Well animal cruelty is exactly what law enforcement is charging them with, so that's a safe bet.

    The fact each of them is hit with 2 charges plus the "illegal method of take" misdemeanor makes me think they're being hit for more than just what they did to that shark. The one guy has uploaded numerous images of handling tarpon illegally.

    edit: A few other news sites added "- Shark" to the end of each charge indicating they were all related to the shark video (or any other shark videos/pics they shared), but the official FWC document indicates that only the "illegal method of take" charge is related to sharks.

    https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/1cbc181

    I guess we'll know more soon enough
  • finbullyfinbully Posts: 470 Deckhand
    More results of bad parenting leading to low life young adults. Daddy had better learn a lesson here too that letting his immature son use the boat was a very bad idea. True sportsmen (and women) do not need this sort of publicity staining the reputations of the vast majority who cherish the outdoors and all of the special opportunities it offers.

    I hope they throw the book at these jerks!
  • FusionZ06FusionZ06 Posts: 949 Officer
    Well animal cruelty is exactly what law enforcement is charging them with, so that's a safe bet.

    The fact each of them is hit with 2 charges plus the "illegal method of take" misdemeanor makes me think they're being hit for more than just what they did to that shark. The one guy has uploaded numerous images of handling tarpon illegally.

    edit: A few other news sites added "- Shark" to the end of each charge indicating they were all related to the shark video (or any other shark videos/pics they shared), but the official FWC document indicates that only the "illegal method of take" charge is related to sharks.

    https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/1cbc181

    I guess we'll know more soon enough

    You really think this is going to be about the tarpon too? See this is the problem...everyone starts sack riding witch hunting and starts agreeing with all the PETA idiots. Maybe they'll just ban all sport fishing because why torture the bait and fish for our enjoyment.

    I don't disagree that they kids are total ****** bags but a felony? Get real...Like I said, I'll get a copy of the direct information and it's probably more about the sea birds than anything.
  • TwinTurboJoshTwinTurboJosh Posts: 17 Greenhorn
    FusionZ06 wrote: »
    You really think this is going to be about the tarpon too? See this is the problem...everyone starts sack riding witch hunting and starts agreeing with all the PETA idiots. Maybe they'll just ban all sport fishing because why torture the bait and fish for our enjoyment.

    I don't disagree that they kids are total ****** bags but a felony? Get real...Like I said, I'll get a copy of the direct information and it's probably more about the sea birds than anything.

    At this point since the 2 counts of animal cruelty are the charges without an animal attached, my guess would be that it's for dragging the one shark, and putting another shark into a swimming pool. We'll see.
  • area52area52 Posts: 518 Officer
    FusionZ06 wrote: »
    You really think this is going to be about the tarpon too? See this is the problem...everyone starts sack riding witch hunting and starts agreeing with all the PETA idiots. Maybe they'll just ban all sport fishing because why torture the bait and fish for our enjoyment.

    I don't disagree that they kids are total ****** bags but a felony? Get real...Like I said, I'll get a copy of the direct information and it's probably more about the sea birds than anything.

    Totally agree with you. What if in the future someone videos a bad release and the fish clearly dies? Is this animal cruelty? This is a bad precedent to set for the sport of fishing.
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,079 Admiral
    area52 wrote: »
    Totally agree with you. What if in the future someone videos a bad release and the fish clearly dies? Is this animal cruelty? This is a bad precedent to set for the sport of fishing.

    Your attempt at a comparison is like comparing apples and oranges
  • mplspugmplspug Palmetto FloridaPosts: 7,143 Admiral
    Stop jumping the shark people...

    ...so to speak.

    Captain Todd Approves

  • TarponatorTarponator Under a BridgePosts: 11,256 AG
    Good to see these kids being prosecuted. I hope they throw the book at them.
  • area52area52 Posts: 518 Officer
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    Your attempt at a comparison is like comparing apples and oranges

    You are wrong in your analysis. This is unprecedented and the PETAs of the world will start to make comparisons like that. Inch by inch.
  • mplspugmplspug Palmetto FloridaPosts: 7,143 Admiral
    Tarponator wrote: »
    Good to see these kids being prosecuted. I hope they throw the book at them.

    I agree, but I suggest we not refer to them as kids. That implies naivety.
    area52 wrote: »
    You are wrong in your analysis. This is unprecedented and the PETAs of the world will start to make comparisons like that. Inch by inch.

    PETA doesn't have the ability to prosecute.

    Captain Todd Approves

  • SaltygatorvetSaltygatorvet TallahasseePosts: 2,623 Captain
    area52 wrote: »
    Totally agree with you. What if in the future someone videos a bad release and the fish clearly dies? Is this animal cruelty? This is a bad precedent to set for the sport of fishing.

    Did you watch the video? That wasn't at all the same as a release where the fish doesn't make it. If you don't know the difference, that's on you. You are comparing apples to oranges.
    You should have been here yesterday
  • dragon baitdragon bait Posts: 6,068 Admiral
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  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,079 Admiral
    area52 wrote: »
    You are wrong in your analysis. This is unprecedented and the PETAs of the world will start to make comparisons like that. Inch by inch.

    PETA can do what they like, but they don't make laws, nor enforce laws, nor prosecute laws. And as far as comparing what these guys did to a release that goes bad....come on, you can't be that short of brain cells.
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,770 Captain
    There’s two aspects of this... whether they should be charged on a moral level and whether it can be proven they actually broke the law and proven properly, not based on knee jerk emotion independent of the actual dry facts and the law. The second concerns me more than the first.

    For example, the guys present on the boat can’t be guilty under the law just because they were present and approved of the conduct. There ought to be evidence they actually willingly participated. Driving the boat or helping tie the shark could be evidence of willing participation. Looking and laughing is not. I hope no one is being prosecuted because they did the latter.
  • SaltygatorvetSaltygatorvet TallahasseePosts: 2,623 Captain
    There’s two aspects of this... whether they should be charged on a moral level and whether it can be proven they actually broke the law and proven properly, not based on knee jerk emotion independent of the actual dry facts and the law. The second concerns me more than the first.

    For example, the guys present on the boat can’t be guilty under the law just because they were present and approved of the conduct. There ought to be evidence they actually willingly participated. Driving the boat or helping tie the shark could be evidence of willing participation. Looking and laughing is not. I hope no one is being prosecuted because they did the latter.

    I wouldn't have a problem if they were prosecuted for the latter
    You should have been here yesterday
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,079 Admiral
    For example, the guys present on the boat can’t be guilty under the law just because they were present and approved of the conduct. There ought to be evidence they actually willingly participated. Driving the boat or helping tie the shark could be evidence of willing participation. Looking and laughing is not. I hope no one is being prosecuted because they did the latter.


    I can assure you that no one in this case is being prosecuted that was not a willing participant. Warrants were obtained and as such there was a three step process involved to ensure P.C. exists which included investigators writing out a warrant request which was then approved the by the State Attorney which was then approved by a Judge.
  • 2amigo2amigo Posts: 4,105 Captain
    There’s two aspects of this... whether they should be charged on a moral level and whether it can be proven they actually broke the law and proven properly, not based on knee jerk emotion independent of the actual dry facts and the law. The second concerns me more than the first.

    For example, the guys present on the boat can’t be guilty under the law just because they were present and approved of the conduct. There ought to be evidence they actually willingly participated. Driving the boat or helping tie the shark could be evidence of willing participation. Looking and laughing is not. I hope no one is being prosecuted because they did the latter.

    If you are present when a crime is being committed aren't you an accessory if you did nothing to prevent it or did not report it later??
  • kellerclkellercl Posts: 2,722 Captain
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    Your attempt at a comparison is like comparing apples and oranges

    Thank you, well said (throughout this thread). I was legitimately baffled at the crazy comparison. Tying up a shark, dragging it at full speed while laughing being equated to an accidental bad release... certain things simply make me shake my head.
  • kellerclkellercl Posts: 2,722 Captain
    For example, the guys present on the boat can’t be guilty under the law just because they were present and approved of the conduct.

    Well that certainly isn't true. If a ride along with a friend and sit in the car while he robs a bank... yeah man, I'm getting charged. It is called being an accessory.
  • 2amigo2amigo Posts: 4,105 Captain
    kellercl wrote: »
    Well that certainly isn't true. If a ride along with a friend and sit in the car while he robs a bank... yeah man, I'm getting charged. It is called being an accessory.

    Yep. A lot of people are really afraid of the "internet lynch mob" and think this is a "slippery slope " to arrest these fools. A lot of snowflakes on this forum......
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