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Sushi chef at Santa Monica restaurant sentenced in whale meat case

Santa Monica sushi chef sentenced for serving whale meat

A sushi chef who served whale at a now-closed Santa Monica restaurant was sentenced to two years’ probation, fined $5,000 and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service for his part in a scheme to import and sell whale meat, authorities said Monday.

Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, along with chef Susumu Ueda and Typhoon Restaurant Inc., the parent company of the restaurant the Hump, were indicted in early 2013 after a sting operation involving an associate producer of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove” revealed that whale was being served off-menu to customers.

Yamamoto and Ueda pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor charges and cooperated with investigators.

Ueda received the same sentence earlier this month, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman of the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

The supplier of the whale meat, Ginichi Ohira, pleaded guilty in 2011 and is scheduled to be sentenced in June, Mrozek said.

Whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the importing or sale of whale meat.

The chefs admitted that in 2007, Ueda got approval from the restaurant’s owner and manager to order several pounds of whale from Ohira, prosecutors previously said. Yamamoto then served the whale meat on at least two occasions in early 2010.

The order included about three kilograms of whale akami, or red meat; about two kilograms each of whale bacon; and whale onomi, or tail, according to the plea agreement.

Ueda, the head sushi chef, and Yamamoto each faced a maximum of three years in prison.

Brian Vidor, the owner of Typhoon Restaurant Inc., was sentenced in April to one year of probation, and the company received 18 months’ probation. Vidor and the company were jointly ordered to pay a fine of $27,500.

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