Chefs At The Hump Plead Guilty To Serving Whale Sushi
Back in 2010, the associate producer of the documentary "The Cove" was tipped off by a friend that The Hump in Santa Monica was serving whale sushi, which is illegal under federal law. After some genetic testing, they figured out that it was the sei whale, a protected endangered species. The feds came back to The Hump with a search warrant in hand and say they found evidence and charges were filed. Now the chefs who served the meat are back in court and have pleaded guilty.
Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 49, of Culver City, and Susumu Ueda, 40, of Lawndale, who worked at now-closed The Hump at Santa Monica Airport, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges each - conspiracy and offering to, and selling, a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purchase. They each face up to three years in federal prison, plus fines and community service.
The chefs were accused of ordering the whale meat from Ginichi Ohira, a Japanese citizen in the U.S., who had already been in trouble with authorities for selling a marine mammal product. Ohira then allegedly made a phony invoice noting the meat was "fatty tuna" and delivered the product to The Hump at the Santa Monica Airport. The conspiracy went on from 2007 until 2010 when the restaurant was busted.
Ohira previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of importing endangered whale meat and selling it to Southland sushi restaurants, and is awaiting sentencing.
And it turned out that the meat was actually three years old by the time it was served. Gnarly.