SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A pair of sushi chefs who served federally protected whale meat to customers at a Santa Monica restaurant have pleaded guilty.
Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda, who worked for the now-closed The Hump restaurant at the Santa Monica Airport, pleaded guilty Monday to three misdemeanor charges of conspiracy, offering and selling a marine mammal product for an unauthorized purpose.
The restaurant was busted in 2010 after documentary filmmakers of the “The Cove” got a sample of the endangered Sei whale meat and tipped off federal agents.
Court documents show the chefs purchased the whale meat from a Gardena-based seafood dealer that bought it from a Japanese supplier.
Prosecutors alleged the illegal meat was sold at The Hump for three years.
The chefs face up to three years in prison, plus fines and community service. However, officials say jail time is unlikely due to their cooperation.
The Hump closed in 2010.