It looks the The Hump, the now-closed Santa Monica sushi restaurant busted for serving endangered whale sashimi last month, is off the hook: The U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday asked a federal judge to dismiss charges against the eatery and its sushi chef.

“We're asking for dismissal 'without prejudice' — meaning we can refile,'' said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. “This investigation remains open and active.''

We said that when the restaurant issued an apology, vowed to donate cash to environmental groups, admitted wrongdoing and then closed up, that we smelled a plea deal. The U.S. Attorney's Office is not saying there was a deal in place to drop the charges, but it now feels like case closed.

The Hump's parent company, Typhoon (also the name of an adjacent restaurant that serves up exotic Asian fare) and the chef were were each charged in with a misdemeanor count of serving up an endangered species. If convicted the venue and the chef could face fines of $100,000 and $200,000 respectively and as much as a year behind bars.

Federal authorities served search warrants on the eatery after a documentary film crew captured the restaurant serving up whale meat on three occasions.

-With reporting from City News Service.

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