Two men accused of cheating in fishing contest plead guilty
A pair of Ohio men who were accused of putting weights in fish to help them win fishing tournaments have pleaded guilty to several charges, including cheating.
The moment the men were accused of cheating in a nearly-$29,000 grand prize fishing tournament became a viral moment last fall. Footage shows an organiser of a fishing tournament confronting anglers Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky over the suspiciously high weight of their fish.
Upon the discovery of small metal weights and frozen filets stuffed into the men's fish, a bystander recording the event shouted "we've got weights in fish," riling up a crowd of angry anglers around the accused cheaters.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources confiscated the fish as evidence for further investigation. Agents found the men had stuffed five walleye with lead balls.
Both Runyan and Cominsky have agreed to enter guilty pleas for cheating and unlawful ownership of wild animals. The men's fishing licenses will be suspended for three years, and Cominsky has also agreed to give up his bass fishing boat, which is worth $100,000, according to CBS News.
“This plea is the first step in teaching these crooks two basic life lessons,” Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O'Malley said. “Thou shall not steal, and crime does not pay.”
In exchange for the men's guilty plea, prosecutors have agreed to drop grand theft and possessing criminal tools charges.
The men will be sentenced on 11 May, according to a court calendar.
Prosecutors will reportedly recommend a six-month probation period and then ask for their convictions to be expunged if they successfully complete their probation.
Kevin Spellacy, Cominsky's lawyer, said taking the plea deal is his client's first step toward moving on with his life and taking responsibility for his actions.
Cominsky and Spellacy were also investigated in 2022 after they were accused of cheating during a different walleye tournament.
According to a police report, a prosecutor determined that while the men may have cheated in that instance, there is not enough evidence to bring charges against them.