Santa Monica’s enduring legal battle over the serving of whale meat appears to be finally wrapping up. Longtime sushi restaurant The Hump was first accused of serving slices of endangered Sei whale to undercover investigators back in 2009 and 2010 after video initially surfaced in the documentary The Cove. The scandal earned them a healthy picket line and an eventual shutter.
Apologies followed, legal mudslinging ensued, and indictments of former Hump workers as recently as 2013 created a rippling fallout that nobody was quite prepared for. Now the Santa Monica Mirror is reporting that the final round of court dates have come and gone, with Brian Vidor and Typhoon Restaurant Inc. agreeing to a $27,500 fine.
Vidor will also have a year of probation on his hands, after pleading guilty a year ago. Sushi chefs Kiyoshiro Yamamoto and Susumu Ueda, who actually served the whale under Vidor's supervision, have also pled guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced next month.
It seems a small price to in the end, given the news reports that breathlessly discussed decades-long sentences for the heavy crime. Still, the scandal did force the shutter of the restaurant located at the Santa Monica Airport, though Yamamoto went on to almost immediately open Yamakase in Palms, which is an uber-expensive invitation-only omakase sushi joint, and is still going strong. Should Yamamoto see actual jail time, it could throw that whole operation into a tailspin, but for now, everyone seems to be getting off relatively lightly. Apparently cheaters do prosper sometimes.