LOS ANGELES — A seafood dealer who illegally sold whale meat to Santa Monica sushi restaurant The Hump has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

City News Service says 50-year-old Ginichi Ohira of Gardena entered the plea Tuesday in Los Angeles to a count of knowingly selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.

He faces up to a year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine. He is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 27.

Under a plea agreement, Ohira acknowledged that he began importing whale meat from Tokyo about 10 years ago.

Ohira sold protected sei whale meat to The Hump at 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.

news@www.smdp.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *