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Chefs face felony charges over whale meat

Published By United Press International
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Chefs who worked at a now-closed sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, Calif., have been indicted on felony charges for allegedly importing illegal whale meat.

Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda -- who formerly worked at the Hump -- and the restaurant's parent company, Typhoon Restaurant Inc., have been charged with nine counts of conspiracy to import and sell Sei whale meat from 2007 to 2010, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The indictment alleges Yamamoto and Ueda ordered the whale meat from Ginichi Ohira, a Japanese national who has pleaded guilty to illegally selling a marine mammal product.

The indictment alleges Ohira received the whale meat from Japan, invoiced the Hump for meat incorrectly described as fatty tuna, and then delivered the whale meat to the restaurant. The arrangement allegedly went on for three years.

The Hump was the target of a federal agent and animal activists sting that was orchestrated by the associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove," the newspaper said.

If convicted of the felony charges, Yamamoto could face as much as 67 years in federal prison and Ueda could face 10 years. Typhoon Restaurant Inc. faces fines of $1.2 million.
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