2 Fishermen Charged in 'Disgusting' Cheating Scandal

They allegedly stuffed walleye with lead weights, fish fillets at Ohio tournament
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2022 7:46 AM CDT
2 Fishermen Charged in 'Disgusting' Cheating Scandal
Jacob Runyan, left, and Chase Cominsky, celebrate a tournament win on Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Bass Pro Shops in Rossford.   (Isaac Ritchey/The Blade via AP)

In video from a Sept. 30 fishing tournament in Ohio, members of an angry crowd, some of them using NSFW language, shouted "Call the cops" and "You should go to jail" after apparent cheating was uncovered. Police were indeed called—and the alleged cheaters might go to jail. Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, were indicted Wednesday on felony charges of cheating and attempted grand theft, the New York Times reports. Jason Fischer, director of the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament, cut open the men's catch at the Cleveland event and discovered lead weights and fillets from other fish inside, to bolster the men's chances at the trophy awarded to the group of five fish with the greatest total weight. Prosecutors say Fischer sliced the walleye open after noticing they seemed unusually heavy for their size, NBC reports.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O'Malley said the men’s actions were "not only dishonorable but also criminal." According to search warrant affidavits, the five walleye contained a total of eight 12-ounce lead weights and two 8-ounce weights, as well as fillets from other walleye, the AP reports. If Runyan and Cominsky had won the tournament, they would have received $28,760 in prize money. The affidavits state that the men were investigated for cheating in a different walleye tournament in Ohio earlier this year but charges weren't brought due to a lack of evidence. Fischer says the men were "given checks for first place" at Lake Erie Walleye Trail events in June, July, and September.

The men also face a felony charge of possessing criminal tools—apparently Cominsky's boat, which was seized Tuesday—and a misdemeanor charge of unlawful ownership of wild animals. If convicted, they could face up to a year in prison and indefinite suspension of their fishing licenses, the Times reports. In a Facebook post last week, Fischer called the cheating "one of the most disgusting, dishonest acts that the fishing world has ever seen," adding that the men "appeared to have put greed and ego in front of anything else, forever tainting our sport." (Read more fishing stories.)

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