A Santa Cruz man suspected of hitting harbor seals with his skim board in May was charged in federal court Thursday with taking a marine mammal. He faces up to a year in federal prison and a $20,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported.
William Lester Johnsen, 37, allegedly beat harbor seals on Main Beach near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on May 23, according to authorities. State Parks rangers arrested him and turned the case over to the District Attorney’s Office. Eventually, the U.S. Attorney’s Office joined the investigation and then decided prosecute Johnsen in federal court, authorities said.
During Johnsen’s court appearance Thursday, he was ordered to stay away from Main Beach, then released $25,000 bond, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He returns to court Feb. 21.