The story that took the fishing industry by storm is entering its next phase, the courtroom. Jacob Runyan, of Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, of Pennsylvania are scheduled to be in court October 26.
Runyan and Cominsky were found cheating, and subsequently disqualified at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament. Their 5 fish bag weighed more than anticipated and after being examined, tournament director Jason Fischer cut the fish open to find lead weights and fish filets stuffed in the stomach of the walleye. This enraged many bystanders with many recording the incident. The video has been viewed millions of times across the world, with many speculating what the punishment would be for the two.
This led to a criminal investigation, and charges have been laid. Cuyahoga Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a statement, “I take all crime very seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but also criminal.”
The Cleveland grand jury indicted the two on fifth-degree felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft and possessing criminal tools. They have also been served with the first-degree misdemeanor charge of unlawful ownership of wild animals. In addition Pennsylvania authorities seized Cominsky’s boat and trailer.
If convicted with the felony charges the two could face 12 months in prison, and the misdemeanor, 30 days in jail. The unlawful ownership of wild animals could bring an indefinite suspension of their fishing licenses.
Tournament director Jason Fischer stated that the tournament will implement changes to “protect the integrity” of the sport. This has had many speculating what changes can and should be made and if other tournaments should follow suit including BASS and MLF.
Dave Mercer suggested that all fish should pass through a metal detector. “They actually do it in Asia, they actually wand the fish. Just like a wand when you go into a club.” This is something that could be done to preserve the integrity of the sport.
We have received an answer for the question, “what will they be charged with?” But we will have to wait and see what the sport does to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Runyan and Cominsky may just be the most famous tournament anglers this world has ever seen. Unfortunately for reasons none of us wanted to see.