The two beleaguered anglers face felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, and possessing criminal tools.
After a tournament judge discovered lead weights inside their winning fish, two men accused of cheating pled not guilty in an Ohio courtroom this week, Cleveland’s WOIO reported.
A grand jury indicted Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, on multiple felony charges for the incident. They also each face a misdemeanor charge of unlawful ownership of wild animals.
Nearly $30,000 was on the line at an Ohio tournament when Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky allegedly packed weights into their fish. They pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
— NPR (@NPR) October 26, 2022
The pair’s near-win at the Lake Erie Walleye Championships went viral online. In the video, an official slices open their winning fish to discover weights and filets stuffed inside.
Tournament organizers immediately disqualified and removed Runyan and Cominsky from the event, where the prize purse for winners was $29,000.
If convicted on the felony charges, each man faces up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines, according to a news release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office.
For the misdemeanor charges, they face up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines. Both men posted their $2,500 bond and have been released, according to multiple Ohio news sources.
The pair’s next court appearance is scheduled for November 9.