Disgrace of The Hump in Santa Monica
Santa Monica sushi restaurant charged with illegally selling whale meat. The eatery admits the wrongdoing, its attorney says.
Federal agents and animal activists cooperated in a video sting orchestrated by a producer of the Oscar-winning documentary 'The Cove.'
Federal prosecutors Wednesday filed criminal charges against a Santa Monica sushi restaurant and one of its chefs, alleging they had sold meat from an endangered whale.
The Hump, a hip hangout at Santa Monica Airport, immediately said through attorney Gary Lincenberg that it accepted responsibility for the wrongdoing charged by the U.S. attorney" and would pay a fine and resolve the matter in court.
Named in the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, were Typhoon Restaurant Inc., owner of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45, of Culver City.
The illegal sale of a marine mammal product is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000 for an individual and $200,000 for an organization, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The Hump came under fire after allegations surfaced in Tuesday's New York Times that it had served meat from an endangered sei whale, possibly straight from the trunk of a white Mercedes-Benz.
To provide evidence, federal agents and animal activists had cooperated in a video sting orchestrated by the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove."
Someone should not be able to walk into a restaurant and order a plate of an endangered species," U.S. Atty. Andr Birotte Jr. wrote in a news release.
The revelations rattled the extensive green" community in Santa Monica, which prides itself on its environmental and animal-rights credentials as well as its many foodie- rated restaurants.