Fishermen Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky recently made headlines when they were spotted using weights on their catch to win the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing competition. The two guys were charged with crimes of cheating, attempted grand theft, possession of criminal instruments, and unlawful possession of wild animals earlier this month.
Runyan and Cominsky entered a not-guilty plea to those accusations on October 26. The Associated Press reports that during their brief court appearances in Cleveland on Wednesday, neither of them spoke. At the conclusion of the session, their lawyers likewise opted not to comment on the situation. Runyan and Cominsky were released after posting $2,500 personal bonds.
Late in September, the incident in question took place. Runyan and Cominsky needed their five fish to weigh more than 16.89 pounds in order to take first place, which came with a $28,760 cash reward. Jason Fischer, the tournament’s director, decided to take a second look at their catch after it won by more than 17 pounds in a video shared on Twitter.
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Fischer confirmed that the fish had 10 weights put on it. The other two weighed 10 ounces. Eight of them weighed 12 ounces. Fischer also discovered walleye fillets inserted into the fish to increase the catch’s weight.
Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley discussed the case after announcing the charges.
In a news release, O’Malley stated, “I take every crime seriously, and I feel what these two individuals tried was not only disgraceful but criminal.”
Investigators seized Cominsky’s boat and trailer as he and Runyan are accused of a plethora of crimes, the majority of which are fifth-degree felonies. The fourth-degree criminal accusation of unlawful ownership of wild animals is the exception. If they are found guilty, the two could have their fishing licences permanently suspended.
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