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Fishermen plead not guilty to charges in tournament scandal

Fishermen plead not guilty to charges in tournament scandal
October 27, 2022 The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Two men accused of stuffing five walleye with lead weights and fish fillets during a lucrative fishing tournament on Lake Erie pleaded not guilty to cheating and other charges on Wednesday.

Jacob Runyan, 42, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, 35, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, made no comments during their brief court appearances in Cleveland. Their attorneys declined to comment about the case after the hearing.

Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor James Gutierrez also declined to comment, referring questions to a spokesperson.

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

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

Runyan and Cominsky were indicted earlier this month on felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals.

Both were released Wednesday on personal bonds of $2,500.

The first place prize in the tournament totaled around $28,000.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Weighted Walleye: The fallout of the Lake Erie fishing tournament

Authorities probing report of scandal at fishing tournament


Featured image: Jacob Runyan, left, and Chase Cominsky, sit in court as they are arraigned, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022, in Cleveland. The two pleaded not guilty to cheating and other charges in a lucrative fishing tournament on Lake Erie in the end of September where they were accused of stuffing five walleye with lead weights and fish filets. (AP Photo/Mark Gillispie)

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