Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyan were declared winners at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship (LEWT) in Cleveland last month before their fellow competitors found the bizarre items stuffed in their catches. Runyan, 42, and Cominsky, 35, have now been indicted on felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, and possessing criminal tools, ESPN reported.
Video of the alleged cheating incident showed someone cutting open the fish and pulling out lead weights and even the filets of another fish that the men had allegedly stuffed down the throats of their catches to make them heavier.
Multiple people can be heard urging someone to “call the cops” and file a police report over the alleged cheating scandal.
“You got thousands of f***ing dollars you stole from everyone!” someone accuses.
Serious Controversy in Pro fishing tournament as multiple-time winners caught stuffing lead weights and other fish filets in their fish to have the heaviest catch to win hundreds of thousands in prizes. pic.twitter.com/Sxqeo2XC0K
— Billy (@Billyhottakes) October 1, 2022
On Tuesday, investigators seized a Ranger Pro Fisherman boat and a trailer from Cominsky’s Pennsylvania property and took them as evidence. Runyan and Cominsky were also charged with misdemeanors of unlawfully owning wild animals and are scheduled to be arraigned on October 26. The fishermen would have won over $28,000 at the Ohio tournament.
The two fishermen have been accused of cheating in the past, according to The Toledo Blade.
Winners of the tournament receive cash prizes of up to $100,000 and are determined by the weight of their five largest catches, according to the LEWT website. Another prize goes to the largest single walleye caught. The official Facebook page for the event said the latest incident proved there was cheating during the competition.
“Disgusted guys and gals, I’m sorry for letting you down for so long and I’m glad I caught cheating taking place in YOUR LEWT at the same time,” Tournament Director and police officer Jason Fischer said, adding, “I hope you know now that when I say ‘you built this LEWT and I will defend its integrity at all costs,’ I mean it. You all deserve the best.”