Two men were charged charges of cheating in the Lake Erie walleye tournamentThe Cuyahoga (Ohio) County prosecutor announced this afternoon.
Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, were charged with racketeering, attempted aggravated robbery, possession of criminal tools and illegal possession of wildlife, prosecutors said.
“I take all crimes seriously, and I believe what these two people tried to do was not only shameful but criminal,” Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a news release.
A video posted to Twitter showed Jason Fischer, the game director of the Lake Erie Walley Trail, cutting the winning catch of five walleye and finding the weight of the lead and creating fish files in it. Runyan and Cominsky, the winning anglers, were immediately banned.
The prosecutor’s office opened investigating after becoming aware of fraud charges.
A LOT:An angry mob of anglers attack anglers who used rods in an Ohio fishing tournament
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At stake in the tournament: Up to $30,000 in prize money
Runyan and Cominsky participating in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament on Sept. 30 in Cleveland where anglers from several states competed to see who could catch the five heaviest walleye in Lake Erie. At stake was a $28,760 reward, according to an investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
The game director cut Runyan and Cominsky’s fish open and found 10 irons inside, eight weighing 12 ounces and two weighing 8 ounces, along with several files.
Investigators seized Comisky’s boat and trailer.
These charges are fifth-degree felonies except for illegal possession of wildlife, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. This case is related to the men who allegedly had files of fish in their boat. Convictions could result in permanent suspensions of their fishing licenses, prosecutors said.
Runyan of Ashtabula and Cominsky of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, will be arraigned on Oct. 26 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
The investigation was a joint effort by ODNR, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Heritage Pennsylvania Police Department, the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Those who enjoy fishing have been hurt by the insults
The story of fishing has caused an uproar among enthusiasts, including those who live in Portage Lakes outside of Akron. They say this behavior does not reflect the game.
SPECIALISTS: Portage Lakes fisheries experts respond to the Lake Erie walleye scandal
Maria Licht, who runs At least Half Tour Bass Fishing Tournaments at Portage Lakes with her husband, Erich Licht, said she had a visceral response when she heard about the incident.
“I was sick to my stomach,” he said. “It made me sick.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be followed on Twitter @swarsmithabj.