The two anglers at the center of a cheating scandal that rocked the competitive fishing world last fall pleaded guilty to the charges in the case Monday.
Jacob Runyan, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, of Heritage, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to fraud and illegal ownership of wild animals as part of a plea deal. Both men agreed to three-year suspensions of their fishing licenses, with Cominsky agreeing to relinquish his $100,000 worth of bass boat.
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Prosecutors agreed to drop the charges of attempted grand theft and possession of criminal tools. Runyan and Cominsky will be sentenced on May 11. Prosecutors will recommend a six-month probation sentence and then request expungement of their sentences if they complete their probation, Cuyahoga County Assistant District Attorney James Gallagher said.
The crux of the matter stemmed from an incident at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament in September.
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Tournament director Jason Fischer became suspicious of illicit activity when Runyan and Cominsky delivered fish significantly heavier than typical walleye.
Fischer had a crowd around him when he cut up the walleye and found weights and walleye fillets tucked inside. The ordeal led to the subsequent arrests and charges for both fishermen.
Five walleye contained lead weights and fillets, according to search warrant affidavits. The two men would have received just over $28,000 in prize money for winning the tournament.
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Runyan and Cominsky were also investigated for allegations of cheating at a separate walleye tournament in the spring of 2022, according to court records. But a prosecutor concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge them.
Associated Press contributed to this report.