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Florida men accused in shark dragging video plead not guilty

Florida men accused in shark dragging video plead not guilty”

Three men from Manatee County who are accused of dragging a shark behind their boat and recording it in a video that caused an online outcry pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Wednesday.

The men - Robert Lee "Bo" Benac, 28, Michael Wenzel, 21, and Spencer Heintz, 23 - are each being charged with two counts of aggravated animal cruelty, a third-degree felony, announced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The men were not in court and their lawyers entered the pleas on their behalf, attorney Stephen Crawford said by phone shortly after the brief hearing.

Florida men accused in shark dragging video plead not guilty

The video showed the shark tied by a rope around its tail, dragged backward by a speeding boat possibly traveling at 30 miles per hour. Wenzel's Instagram account also showed him allegedly manhandling pelicans, catching illegal tarpon, and in one photo, holding a dead dog with a rope around its neck and insinuating that it will soon be fed to sharks.

The three men last month bonded out of jail. They are all out of custody after posting bond, and their depositions are scheduled for March 6.

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