DOWNTOWN L.A. — A Gardena seafood dealer who sold endangered whale meat to The Hump in Santa Monica and other sushi restaurants has yet to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Ginichi Y. Ohira, 50, was charged in Los Angeles federal court with knowingly selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose, in violation of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. News agencies reported last week that Ohira was supposed to plead guilty Monday but authorities said his case was assigned to a judge and no plea was entered.

A date to enter the plea is expected to be released today.

Specifically, Ohira sold protected sei whale meat to The Hump at the Santa Monica Airport, which closed its doors last year after federal prosecutors charged the owner and a chef with sales of the federally-protected mammal.

Ohira began importing whale meat from Japan about 10 years ago. Among his customers was a sushi chef at The Hump.

The meat was discovered in visits to the restaurant by undercover agents working with environmental advocates behind the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” who conducted their own surveillance operation in which they used video cameras and tiny microphones to document the illegal activity.

Charges against the restaurant and chef were dismissed in 2010 after the eatery admitted serving up sei, and pledged to make a substantial contribution to whale preservation or endangered species groups and shut down entirely.

The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, one year under supervised release, and a fine of $100,000, prosecutors said.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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