Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, were charged in Cleveland with misdemeanor charges of fraud, attempted theft, possession of an instrument of crime and unlawful possession of wildlife.
Neither Runyan nor Cominsky immediately responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment. Court records have not listed lawyers for the men.
The indictment stems from the eventual championship game at the Walleye Trail Fishing Tournament on Lake Erie on September 9. 30. The two-person fishing team Runyan and Cominsky appeared to win the Cleveland one-day event, submitting five fish weighing nearly 34 pounds. The catch would also earn them Team of the Year honors — and nearly $30,000 — as they’ve won multiple other events over the past few months.
But race director Jason Fischer told The Washington Post in the days after the event that he became suspicious when Runyan and Cominsky’s catch was officially weighed and weighed more than 30 pounds. Fischer, who witnessed the entry, estimated that the group of five fish weighed about 20 pounds.
“It discouraged me a little bit because I knew it wasn’t right,” Fischer told the Post.
The fishermen almost won a game. Then weight was found in the fish.
Fischer instinctively grabbed a fish and felt something hard in his stomach. Then, he cut open the dead walleye and made a startling discovery.
“We have the weight of the fish!” Fischer exclaimed, drawing one of the 10 weights found in Runyan and Cominsky’s entry.
According to a one-minute video Fischer shared with The Post, Fischer disqualified him and Cominsky in dramatic fashion as Runyan stood a few feet away blushing.
“Get out of here!” growled the race director, underscoring the point with profanity.
After Runyan and Cominsky were disqualified, event organizers contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spokeswoman Stephanie O’Grady told The Washington Post earlier this month. Wildlife officials traveled to the event to collect evidence and began preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Attorney’s Office.
Runyan and Cominsky are scheduled to appear in Cuyahoga County Criminal Court on October 18. 26.