Investigation Into Shark-Dragging Video Nets 3 Arrests

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Shark dragging video case results in three arrests. Among the three men charged is Michael Wenzel, 21, of Palmetto, who was captain of the boat and a friend of Alex Kompothecras, star of the MTV reality show Siesta Key.

Wenzel faces two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one misdemeanor for using an illegal method to catch a shark. The felony counts are each punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, although any punishment will likely be less than that maximum.

Robert Lee “Bo” Benac, 28, of Bradenton faces the same felony and misdemeanor charges as Wenzel. He is the son of Manatee County Commission chair Betsy Benac, while Wenzel is the son of the county planning director. The third man charged is Spencer Heintz, 23, also of Palmetto, who faces just the two felony charges.

All three turned themselves in on Tuesday. Wenzel was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 12:30 p.m. and freed at 7 p.m. after posting $4,250 bail, according to records. Benac was released from the Hillsborough County jail Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. after posting $4,250 bail.

The State Attorney’s Office is committed to holding these men accountable for having engaged in such senseless and unjustifiable animal cruelty,” said Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren in a statement.

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