Fishermen Jake Runyan and Chase Cominsky, who were caught adding weights to their fish in order to win the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament last fall, were sentenced to 10 days in jail and 1.5 years' probation on Thursday, according to USA Today. This comes after the two pleaded guilty to felony charges including cheating in late March. The fishermen had previously plead not guilty to charges that included felony cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals.
In addition to their jail sentences, Runyan and Cominsky have reportedly been ordered to pay a $2,500 fine by a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge, a number that can be reduced if they make a donation to a charitable cause focused on fishing and children.
According to the Associated Press, the fishermen's guilty plea encompassed the cheating and unlawful wild animal ownership charges, resulting in the pair agreeing to three-year suspensions of their fishing licenses. Cominsky has also agreed to give up his bass boat valued at $100,000. The attempted grand theft and criminal tool possession charges have been dropped.
The incident in question happened late September. Competing for a $28,760 prize, Runyan and Cominsky needed their five fish to have a total weight over 16.89 pounds in order to win first place. In a video posted to Twitter, tournament director Jason Fischer chose to take a second look at their haul after it won by more than 17 pounds.
Sure enough, Fischer found 10 weights had been added to the fish. Eight of them weighed 12 ounces, and the other two weighed 10 ounces. Additionally, Fischer found walleye filets placed in the fish to add even more weight to the catch.
After announcing the charges, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O'Malley shared his thoughts on the case.
"I take every crime seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but criminal," O'Malley said in a press release.
Cominsky's boat and trailer were seized by investigators, but both he and Runyan pleaded not guilty to their charges in an Oct. 26 court appearance. Both were then released on personal bonds of $2,500.