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San Jose Man Pleads Guilty To Fatally Shooting Great White Shark

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- A San Jose man has been fined $5,000 and placed on two years probation after he pleaded guilty to fatally shooting a Great White shark in the waters off Aptos, wildfire officials said Thursday.

Vinh Pham pleaded guilty to multiple charges including wanton waste of the White shark, possessing a loaded rifle in his vehicle and other commercial fishing violations. A Santa Cruz Superior Court judge also ordered that weapon used to kill the shark be destroyed.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers began their investigation on June 17, 2018, immediately after the nine-foot male shark washed up on Beer Can Beach in Aptos.

A necropsy performed on the shark confirmed that it had been killed by multiple shots from a .22 caliber firearm.

Soon after, wildlife officials received a tip that a member of a commercial fishing boat crew may have been responsible for the shark's death.

Officers investigated the tip and placed the fishing under surveillance near where the shark's corpse was discovered. Two wildlife officers then contacted the crew as the vessel returned to Santa Cruz Harbor.

A regular commercial fishing inspection by the officers uncovered multiple violations involving their catch for that day -- including possession of undersized halibut, no landing receipts, failure to weigh their commercial catch and failure to turn in landing receipts.

During inspection, the officers also located a fully loaded .22 caliber rifle concealed behind the seat of the truck the suspect was using to transport the illegal catch to markets.

Officers seized the rifle as evidence, then submitted both the rifle and the .22 bullets extracted during the shark necropsy to the California Department of Justice crime lab to see if they matched.

As the investigation progressed, Pham confessed, claiming he shot the shark after seeing it swimming near the wings of his deployed fishing net.

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