Boater takes last-minute plea deal in shark dragging case. He’ll spend weekends in jail

Their actions caused outrage across the globe and two years later, the final person involved in the cruel death of a shark that was recorded for all to see in July of 2017 was sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Robert “Bo” Benac III, son of Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, was scheduled for a trial on Thursday to face a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals and possible prison time. He opted for a last-minute plea deal.

The deal reduced the charge to a misdemeanor.

Benac will be able to serve his 10 days of jail time during weekends. In addition to the jail time, Benac was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and perform 250 hours of community service, to be served at an animal shelter. Benac also has lost his fishing license for three years.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission was the lead agency in prosecuting Benac and Palmetto’s Michael Wenzel, who took a similar plea deal in late February.

The incident was captured on video showing the boat dragging a shark by its tail at high rates of speed that essentially shredded the animal while others could be heard on the video laughing.

Other videos began to surface involving the men, including shooting a shark and another involving pouring alcohol down the throats of fish that were reportedly still alive.

Benac, Wenzel and Palmetto’s Spencer Heintz were arrested in December of 2017, but the charges against Heintz were dropped.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
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