Fishermen plead not guilty to cheating charges after stuffing weighted balls in fishes
The two fishermen who were alleged to have cheated in a fishing competition by placing lead weights inside fish have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were indicted earlier this month on felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, and possessing criminal tools.
They were also accused of unlawful ownership of wild animals.
The sport of fishing was rocked when the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament in Ohio was caught up in a cheating scandal.
Caught cheating at a fishing tournament in Ohio. pic.twitter.com/uTKSwwpVDA— RIFF Outdoors (@riffoutdoors) October 3, 2022
With a massive $28,760 winning prize on the line, tournament director Jason Fischer revealed he had become suspicious of the weight of the fish.
Upon inspecting and cutting open the fish he found hard objects inside the aquatic animals that added to their winning weight.
Both Runyan and Cominsky had been suspected of cheating in past tournaments, however, there had never been enough evidence, according to TMZ.
The two anglers appeared in Cleveland court on Wednesday (October 26), but neither spoke.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on personal bonds of $2,500 (£2,150).
The moments where Fischer examined the fish were caught on camera and have gone viral on social media platforms.
It shows Fischer, surrounded by other competitors, cutting open the fish with a knife before he jolts up and yells: "We got weights in fish," upon finding the weights and fillets.
Full video of the guy caught cheating at the Walleye Fishing Tournament for putting led weights inside the fish pic.twitter.com/fRq7PImhZh— Giuseppe Mercadante (@itsmercadante) October 1, 2022
Jason Runyan can be found standing in front of Fischer in the video, silent and motionless. The video can be found here. Strong language is used.
The findings outraged the competitors, bringing on a sea of profanity and aggression, with several of them moving towards Ranyan while shouting at him.
One of the shouts could be heard on video: "You just lost everything!" Runyan and his teammate Chase Cominsky were set to win the $28,760 prize before being found out by Fischer.
Fischer hosts eight of these tournaments a year, as anglers from several states in the USA travel to compete.
The aim is to see who can amass the highest weight for a total of five walleyes caught in Lake Erie.
He stated that he was 'absolutely disgusted' when he discovered the alleged cheating.
Runyan and Cominsky were both known by Fischer from other tournaments and he noted that they had won several tournaments previously.
Featured Image Credit: @riffoutdoors/Twitter.
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