Two fishermen accused of stuffing fish with weights during a tournament sentenced to jail
(CNN) — Two fishermen who were accused of cheating during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament last September — after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets — will serve jail time for the crime, according to court documents from a Thursday sentencing hearing.
As part of an agreement reached in March, Jacob Runyan and Chase Comnisky pleaded guilty to charges of cheating and of unlawful ownership of wild animals. Additional charges of attempted grand theft and possessing criminal tools were dropped as part of the plea deal.
Runyan and Cominsky will each serve 10 days in jail and six months’ probation, according to court documents. They are required to forfeit their boat and trailer to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The men will also each pay a $2,500 fine. The court said half the fine may be suspended if Runyan and Cominsky chose to make a charitable donation of $1,250 to a non-profit organization instead.
The judge also imposed a three-year suspension of their state fishing licenses.
How did they cheat?
Runyan and Cominsky had been set to win a $28,760 prize until Jason Fischer, director of the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament, became suspicious.
They were disqualified from the tournament.
The walleye — a type of fish — in the bucket looked like they each weighed around four pounds, but the total weight indicated they would have to be at least seven pounds each, Fischer told CNN last year.
The moment when Fischer discovered the alleged cheating was documented in several videos that went viral at the time.
They showed Fischer, surrounded by competitors, slicing open the fish with a knife and pulling out what he said was a lead ball.
Fischer later provided photos of metal objects and fish fillets that the tournament host said he had pulled from the walleye, allegedly inserted by the two accused to increase the weight of their catch.
In a video that Fischer shared with CNN last year, Runyan could be seen standing by silently watching while spectators in the crowd screamed insults at him.