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Restaurant Owner Admits He Allowed Sushi Chefs To Serve Whale Meat

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The owner and parent company of a now-closed Santa Monica restaurant pleaded guilty to serving a protected species of whale meat to a customer. Under the terms of a plea deal, they're expected to pay over $27,000 in fines and be put on probation.

The Hump used to be a restaurant at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport, but it was shut down after a 2010 undercover investigation revealed that protected Sei whale meat was being served to customers. Typhoon Restaurant Inc.—the restaurant's parent company—and owner Brian Vidor pleaded guilty on Monday to one unlawful sale of marine mammal, the L.A. Times reports.

Vidor admitted that he knew sushi chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda were serving whale and that he permitted it. Those chefs already pleaded guilty, but have not been sentenced.

If Judge Dale S. Fischer agrees to the terms of the plea, Typhoon and Vidor will pay a joint fine of $27,500. Typhoon will also be placed on 18 months of probation, while Vidor will face 12 months. The sentencing is scheduled for February 23.

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The investigation into The Hump came about after the producers of the 2009's The Cove, a documentary about the dolphin hunting industry in Japan, secretly recorded whale meat being served. Undercover federal agents then went to The Hump where Yamamoto served them the meat, telling them in a whisper that it was whale. Tests of the meat later revealed it to be at least three years old.

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