CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio — Officials in Ohio announced that two men were charged after they allegedly cheated last month during a Lake Erie fishing tournament.
According to a news release, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office said 42-year-old Jacob Runyan and 35-year-old Chase Cominsky were each charged with one count of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and unlawful ownership of wild animals for an incident that occurred during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament.
Officials stated that fifth-degree felonies are punishable by up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. Fourth-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.
“I take all crime very seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but also criminal,” said prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley. “I would like to formally thank the officers with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Hermitage Pennsylvania Police Department, the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for their quick actions and their execution of a search warrant resulting in the seizure of criminal tools, including Defendant Cominsky’s boat and trailer.”
According to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigation, Runyan and Cominsky competed in the tournament on Sept. 30.
The tournament hosts fishermen from several states to see which team can catch the five heaviest walleye in Lake Erie.
Had Runyan and Cominsky won the tournament, they would have received a total prize of $28,760, the release states.
At the end of the tournament, the director noticed that the duo's walleyes weighed more than they looked and sliced the fish open, according to the investigation.
The investigation revealed that 10 weights were found inside the walleyes, with eight weighing 12 ounces and two weighing eight ounces, along with several walleye filets.
The pair were immediately disqualified and asked to leave the tournament.
As part of the possessing criminal tools charge, a boat belonging to Cominsky was seized on Tuesday from Mercer County, Pennslyvania, along with a trailer, as evidence.
The news release states that the unlawful ownership of wild animals pertains to the fish filets found on their boat, and a conviction for that charge could result in the indefinite suspension of their fishing licenses.
Cominsky and Runyan will be arraigned at a later date.
Courtney Shaw at WEWS first reported this story.