Former Santa Monica Sushi Restaurant Could Be Fined $1.2M For Selling Whale

Friday, 1 Feb 2013, 7:24:00 PM

Brenton Garen

A former Santa Monica sushi restaurant could be fined up to $1.2 million if convicted of selling Sei whale -- an endangered species where the sale of is prohibited in the United States by the Marine Mammal Protection Act

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles announced Friday it had indicted Typhoon Restaurant, Inc. -- the parent company of The Hump restaurant that was located at Santa Monica Airport -- and its two chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda on nine counts. Charges include conspiracy to import and sell meat from the endangered sei whale and lying to federal investigators.

If convicted, Yamamoto, 48, faces up to 67 years in prison and Ueda, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The Hump closed in 2010 -- 10 days after the federal charges were first filed.

At the time of the closure, a statement on The Hump’s website read, "The Hump hopes that by closing its doors, it will help bring awareness to the detrimental effect that illegal whaling has on the preservation of our ocean ecosystems and species."

The Hump sold whale sushi to customers on three occasions, according to the criminal complaint filed against the restaurant, some straight from the trunk of a Mercedes.

Federal agents and activists cooperated in a sting that filmed a waitress serving eight pieces what she called “whale,” according to the affidavit provided by the U.S. attorney’s office.

The two chefs and the restaurant parent company are expected to appear in U.S. District Court in coming weeks.

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