Prosecutor: Fisherman caught cheating at tournament charged

Oct 12, 2022, 12:44 AM | Updated: 12:45 pm

CLEVELAND (AP) — Two anglers accused of stuffing fish with lead weights and fillets in an attempt to win thousands of dollars in an Ohio fishing tournament were indicted Wednesday on charges of attempted grand theft and other counts.

Jacob Runyan, 42, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominski, 35, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, were indicted in Cleveland on felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals. They’re due to be arraigned Oct. 26.

Neither man immediately responded to voicemails seeking comment.

The cheating allegations surfaced Sept. 30 when Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament director Jason Fischer became suspicious because Runyan and Cominski’s fish were significantly heavier than walleye of that length typically are. A crowd of people at Gordon Park in Cleveland watched Fischer cut the walleye open and announce that there were weights and walleye fillets stuffed inside.

An officer from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources confiscated the fish as evidence.

Fischer also did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Runyan and Cominski would have received $28,760 in prizes for winning the tournament.

According to search warrant affidavits, the five walleye contained a total of eight 12-ounce (.34 kilogram) lead weights and two 8-ounce (.23 kilogram) weights, as well as the fish fillets. Officers from ODNR, the Hermitage Police Department and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission seized a boat, trailer and fishing gear belonging to Cominski on Tuesday in Pennsylvania. The anglers had used the boat during last month’s tournament, the affidavits said.

One of the affidavits disclosed that Runyan and Cominski were investigated by Rossford police in northwest Ohio in April after being accused of cheating in a different walleye tournament. According to a Rossford police report, an assistant Wood County prosecutor concluded that although the men may have cheated, there was not enough evidence to charge them.

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