2 fishermen sentenced to 10 days in jail after pleading guilty to charges for cheating in walleye tournament

Two fishermen were sentenced to fines and jail time after pleading guilty to multiple charges of cheating during a tournament fishing event in March. The weights were found inside their catches, and the sentencing took place on Thursday in Cleveland.

The judge determined in their lawsuit that Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky would both serve a 10-day jail sentence and pay a $2,500 fine, which will be decreased if it is donated to a charity associated with fishing.

The state statutes permit a maximum duration of three years, during which their fishing licenses were revoked. Additionally, they surrendered their trailer, fishing equipment, and the fishing boat worth $100,000 that they had acquired through previous fishing tournaments, as part of their guilty plea.

According to Michael O’Malley, the Prosecutor of Cuyahoga County, “It was important for the sake of the sport that we ensure that these types of cheating actions never happen again.”

Prior to the judge issuing the verdicts for the accused individuals, both males expressed remorse for their behaviors.

“Runyan mentioned,” but is it not possible for me to redo things and go back to September 30th, I wish I could. I wish it could be taken back. It really hurts.

Cominsky stated, “This is humiliating. I feel ashamed. It’s the most uninformed choice I’ve made in my life.”

Watch the video of the sentencing below. WARNING: Videos from the tournament played in court contain graphic language. Viewer discretion is advised.

On March 27, in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Runyan and Cominsky both admitted guilt for two out of the initial four charges they were accused of.

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  • One charge of Deception (felony of the fifth degree).
  • One charge of Illegal Possession of Wildlife (misdemeanor of the fourth degree).
  • Officials have stated that fifth-degree felonies can be punishable by fines up to $2,500 and imprisonment for up to 12 months. Misdemeanors of the fourth degree, on the other hand, can be punishable by fines up to $250 and jail time of up to 30 days.

    Instead, the individuals opted to confess their guilt regarding these allegations; March 27th was designated as the day for selecting the jury for Runyan’s and Cominsky’s court case. They were initially accused of fifth-degree felony charges for attempting grand theft and having illegal instruments.

    O’Malley stated, “You shall not steal, and engaging in criminal activities does not result in financial gain.” “This appeal serves as the initial stage in imparting these criminals with two fundamental principles of life.”

    According to an ODNR investigation, if Runyan and Cominsky emerged victorious in the tournament, they would have been awarded a grand prize of $28,760. The tournament brings together anglers from various states to determine which team can successfully reel in the five largest walleye in Lake Erie. Runyan and Cominsky participated in the tournament on September 30, 2022.

    “In the cell phone video from the weigh-in, tournament director Jason Fischer exclaims, ‘We have weights inside the fish.’ Upon investigation, it was discovered that there were a total of 10 weights inside the walleyes. Eight of these weights weighed 12 ounces each, while the remaining two weighed eight ounces each. Additionally, several walleye filets were also found. At the conclusion of the tournament, the director observed that the duo’s walleyes weighed more than they appeared and proceeded to cut open the fish.”

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    The duo was promptly disqualified and told to exit the competition amidst shouts from fellow participants.

    During the sentencing hearing, Fischer expressed to the judge, “The display you witnessed was a manifestation of strong feelings.” “As it is their passion,” they actively engage in the activity of fishing and carry out various tasks; they possess occupations and families, these individuals possess.

    Other rival anglers concurred that the scandal had been a blemish on the sport.

    “They’re dishonest individuals. They will face consequences. They will face consequences one way or another,” stated Kurt Marshall.

    In April, Marshall mentioned that he had to undergo a polygraph examination after catching the leading fish for the Crazy Spring Walleye Derby. He mentioned that the regulation was implemented following the cheating controversy.

    Marshall believes that lenient sentences were given to Runyan and Cominsky, but he also recognizes that the pair is likely to be blacklisted from the sport in the foreseeable future.

    “Everybody out here on this lake that hears what happened are going to say, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,'” he said.

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