Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyon had tried it in a particularly brazen way. The two professional anglers prepared their catch with lead balls and fish fillets at a tournament in Cleveland at the end of September. Increased weight means increased chances of winning – after all, there was around 30,000 US dollars in prize money to be won.
Only because tournament director Jason Fischer doubted the weight of the catch given the size of the fish, the fraud was exposed. He cut open the five pike-perch that were supposed to be included in the rating and discovered the additional weights. The scenes that follow can best be described as an almost brawl including wild insults by the surrounding comrades-in-arms. Cominsky and Runyon were eliminated from the tournament.
Now the two face more trouble. They were charged in Cleveland on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The charges go far beyond mere fraud. In addition, the duo are charged with attempted grand larceny, possession of criminal tools and unlawful possession of wildlife. They are expected in court on October 26.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources took over the investigation and seized the fish as evidence. The evaluation showed: The fish were equipped with eight 0.34 kg lead weights and another two 0.23 kg heavy weights. All in all, the catch was 3.18 kilograms heavier than normal, ignoring the additional fish fillets.
On Tuesday, the agency, along with the Hermitage Police Department and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, also seized a boat, trailer and fishing gear from Cominsky. The boat was reportedly used in said tournament.
According to an affidavit, 35-year-old Cominsky and 42-year-old Runyon were investigated back in April. At that time, allegations of fraud after another zander tournament had become loud. Police in Rossfors, northwest Ohio, led the investigation. However, the local prosecutor did not have enough evidence to bring charges.
The team was disqualified from a tournament last year because one of the two failed a lie detector test. This is common because the organizers cannot constantly monitor the fishing area in full and thus find out whether they are dealing with true sportsmanship or cheaters in spirit.