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Jan 12, 8:32 AM EST

3 plead not guilty to charges connected to shark video


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Three Florida men have pleaded not guilty to charges connected to a video of a shark being dragged behind a speeding boat.

Twenty-one-year-old Michael Wenzel and 23-year-old Spencer Heintz, of Palmetto, along with 28-year-old Robert Lee Benac of Bradenton, each face two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Wenzel and Benac also face a misdemeanor count of illegal method of taking a shark.

In a Tampa Bay Times report , Wenzel's attorney, Stephen Crawford, said none of the men appeared at Wednesday's hearing in Hillsborough County court. Their lawyers entered the not guilty pleas on their behalf.

The video went viral in late July after a Miami sport fisherman criticized it on social media. Investigators with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission determined the dragging took place June 26 in state waters off Egmont Key.

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Information from: Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Fla.), http://www.tampabay.com.

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