On Monday, March 27, disgraced tournament anglers Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were sentenced in an Ohio courtroom for the crimes of cheating and unlawful ownership of wild animals. The charges stem from an incident that took place back in September 2022 when the fishing partners were caught packing lead weights into the body cavities of several walleyes they’d caught ahead of a tournament weigh-in in Cleveland, Ohio. The ordeal was caught on camera and quickly went viral. Now the men will have to give up their fishing licenses for three years, and Cominsky will forfeit a bass boat worth $100,000.
As part of a plea deal agreement, prosecutors dropped other charges against Cominsky and Runyan, including attempted grand theft and possession of criminal tools. Those original charges were filed back in late October 2022. They would have carried up to 12 months in prison and fines of $2,500 per offense. The men initially entered a plea of “not guilty” before settling on the current plea deal.
Back in September, Runyan and Cominsky stood to win up to $28,000 in prize money before tournament director Jason Fischer cut into their fish and pulled out the large egg-shaped weights in front of an angry crowd of fellow tournament anglers. The walleye bodies were also packed with the fillets of other fish—presumably in an attempt to muffle the sound and feel of the lead weights as Fisher and others handled the walleyes in the lead-up to the weigh-in.
After substantial public outcry, spurred on by national media coverage, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigated the incident and the men were later indicted. Court documents revealed by the Associated Press show that Cominsky and Runyan were also investigated for cheating allegations related to another walleye tournament that took place near Toledo back in the Spring of 2022—but evidence related to that case wasn’t sufficient enough to warrant charges.
According to the Associated Press, both men will appear for sentencing on May 11, and a sentence of six months probation is likely. Cuyahoga County prosecutors will ask for expungement of the convictions if the men fulfill the terms of their convictions.
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