2 Men Sentenced To Jail Time For Elaborate Cheating In A Fishing Tournament

walleye fishing

iStockphoto / Piter1977

Two men have been sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to charges of cheating in the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament.

You may be asking yourself, ‘why would anyone cheat in a fishing tournament?’ and a look at what they gave up when pleading guilty offers some insight into what could drive someone to stuff fish full of weights to make them appear heaver than they are.

I previously covered this fishing tournament cheating scandal back in March when the two admitted cheaters pled guilty and entered a plea deal. Part of the plea deal meant they had to give up their bass fishing boat valued at $100,000 and loss of their fishing licenses for 3 years.

If they’d hoped the punishment ended there, they were wrong. With sentencing on May 11th, Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were both sentenced to serve 10 days in jail and to pay fines of $2,500 each.

Cheating in a walleye fishing tournament leads to jail time

Cheating in fishing tournaments is nothing new. A famous example came in 2016 when the White Marlin Open grand prize of $2.8 MILLION changed hands after a judge declared the winners invalid. Two men in Utah were convicted on felony charges in 2020 for bringing their own bass to a lake during a tournament.

And now this!

So what exactly did these two do?

Firstly, the duo of Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky has previously been disqualified from the “Fall Brawl” on Lake Erie tournament after one of them failed a polygraph test. That was a huge red flag.

Secondly, they were cheating so egregiously that the fish they caught weighed vastly more than they should’ve and that incited an angry mob at the fishing tournament weigh-in to lob accusations of cheating.

Fast forward to the present day and they’ve both pleaded guilty to cheating and unlawful ownership of wild animals, according to Fox 43.

They were stuffing 12-ounce, egg-shaped weights inside of walleye (fish). And it was discovered they were cheating because the fish simply did not pass the eye test.

Just looking at the fish, people were able to determine the fish weighed more than they should have based on the length/girth measurements and that sparked allegations, an investigation, guilty plea, and now jail time.

After the two men were sentenced to jail time, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley told News 5 ClevelandIt was important for the sake of the sport, for the sake of all competition that we make it so these types of cheating actions never happen again.

One of the admitted fishing tournament cheaters apologized to the judge and jury prior to sentencing, saying “It really hurts. I wish I could take it back. I wish I could go back to September 30th and redo things, but I can’t.

The other added “This is embarrassing. I’m ashamed. It’s the most ignorant decision I’ve made in my life.

There is a full video from the sentencing available to stream on YouTube if you have 40 minutes and care enough about fishing tournament cheating scandals.

Had they won the Lake Erie Walleye Tournament, the grand prize was $28,760. Instead of cheating and taking home that prize, they’ve since lost a $100K bass boat, their fishing licenses for 3 years, have to pay $2,500 fines, and now each will serve 10 days in jail.

It’s been a weird 12 months for ‘cheating in obscure sports’ stories…

Back in November, the competitive Cornhole world was rocked when a cheating scandal hit the world championships.

The Wall Street Journal of all places was the first outlet to break news about this high-stakes cornhole cheating scandal. What sets this incident apart from the rest, however, is it was determined the cheating wasn’t intentional and the match went on, and then things got weirder!

Both sides were actually found to be cheating in the 2022 American Cornhole League World Championships including the #1 overall ranked team. This all happened back in August, by the way, and the Rock Hill, SC event was even broadcast live on ESPN. But details of the cheating scandal are just coming to light.

The gist of the cheating allegations and scandal is this: the bags have to be regulation size and they weren’t. The ‘bags’ used in the American Cornhole League World Championships must measure 6″ x 6″ when laid on a flat surface.

Mark Richards and Philip Lopez are the #1 ranked doubles team on the Cornhole circuit. There are 155,000 members of the American Cornhole League and these are the two best team players in the game.

So when their opponent, Devon Harbaugh, lodged a complaint during their match alleging their bags were too small (he described them as ‘too thin’) and not 6×6 inches it was a huge deal. As stated above, they found the bags were in fact too small. But the judges determined this wasn’t intentional cheating and allowed the match to continue ONLY FOR THEM TO DISCOVER the other team was also playing with bags that were too small.

A spokesman for the ACL told the Wall Street Journal “It’s possible, but I’m pretty confident that it wasn’t intentional.”

Cheating met with cheating but nobody was technically ‘guilty’ because neither team cheated on purpose. And this was all in pursit of a $15,000 cash prize.