Fishermen in Cheating Scandal Do a 180

They switched their pleas to guilty
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2022 1:02 AM CDT
Updated Mar 29, 2023 12:00 AM CDT
Fishermen in Cheating Scandal Plead Not Guilty
From left, Rossford, Ohio Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, Rossford Walleye Roundup Tournament champions Jacob Runyan, Chase Cominsky, and Bass Pro Shops general manager Tony Williamson celebrate on Saturday, April 16, 2022 at Bass Pro Shops in Rossford.   (Isaac Ritchey/The Blade via AP)
UPDATE Mar 29, 2023 12:00 AM CDT

The fishermen accused of cheating during an Ohio tournament in September of last year have accepted a plea deal. Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky will have to give up their fishing licenses for three years, Field and Stream reports. Cominsky must also forfeit a bass boat worth $100,000 as well as a trailer, both of which were used during the cheating incident, Fox 8 reports. They pleaded guilty to one felony count of cheating and a misdemeanor animal ownership violation; the other charges that were dropped would have carried up to a year behind bars, plus fines. They will be sentenced May 11 and are expected to receive probation.

Oct 27, 2022 1:02 AM CDT

The fishermen accused of stuffing their catch with weights in an attempt to win a walleye tournament in Ohio last month pleaded not guilty to cheating charges in court Wednesday. Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky did not speak during their appearances in court, reports. They are charged with several fifth-degree felonies, including cheating, attempted grand theft and possessing criminal tools, meaning each charge could bring a sentence of a year behind bars and fines of up to $2,500, NPR reports. Prior to their fish being sliced open to find lead weights and fillets of other fish inside, they had been set to win the tournament and snag a $28,760 prize.

Prior to the alleged cheating being uncovered, other fishermen had been suspicious of an unprecedented series of wins in tournaments dating back to 2021. At one point during the remarkable run, Runyan said their winnings amounted to more than $300,000, but some of them were also taken away after one of the anglers failed a polygraph test and they were disqualified. (NPR reports polygraphs are "a common precaution at high-stakes fishing tournaments.") The next hearing is set for Nov. 9. Each posted personal bail, which the judge set at $2,500 each. (More cheating stories.)

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