The two men who were caught cheating during a fishing tournament by stuffing lead weights into their fish were sentenced Thursday to 10 days in jail by Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven Gall.
As part of a plea deal, Jacob Runyan, 43, and Chase Cominsky, 36, pleaded guilty in March to cheating and unlawful ownership of wild animals. Once the pair complete their county jail terms, they will serve a year and a half on probation. If they violate their probation, they could face an additional 30-day county jail sentence.
Runyan and Cominsky Fined $2,500, Lose Boat and Have Their Licenses Suspended
In addition, Runyan and Cominsky were also each ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, with half of that money being donated to a fishing charity for children and faced other penalties, including the forfeiture of a boat valued at $100,000 and a three-year suspension of their fishing licenses.
"I think the judge sent a message that 10 day jail sentence. They led them right to county jail right from the courtroom in handcuffs," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Mike O'Malley said. "He takes it seriously and all people in these types of competitive sporting events should take it seriously."
Tournament Director Sliced Open Walleyes to Reveal Weights Inside
Runyan and Cominsky competed in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament in Cleveland on Sept. 30, 2022. The tournament hosted fishermen from several surrounding states that competed to see which team could catch five of the heaviest walleye fish in Lake Erie.
The director of the tournament noticed Runyan and Cominsky's walleyes weighed more than they looked. A crowd of people at Gordon Park in Cleveland watched as Fischer cut the freshwater fish open, and found weights and walleye fillets stuffed inside. Ten weights were located inside the walleyes, eight weighing 12 ounces and two weighing eight ounces along with several walleye fillets.
Runyan and Cominsky Stood to Win $28,760 from Competition
"Given their unbelievable streak of luck that those others wins previous to that tournament were probably fraudulent as well," O'Malley said. The duo, who would have received a total prize of $28,760 if they had won the tournament, were disqualified immediately after the fishy discovery.
Court records also said that Runyan and Cominsky were investigated near Toledo in the spring of 2022 after being accused of cheating in a different walleye tournament. According to a police report, a prosecutor concluded that although the men may have cheated, there was not enough evidence to charge them.