Two men face charges related to Lake Erie walleye tournament cheating

Two men have been charged related to allegations of cheating in a Lake Erie walleye tournament, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor announced this afternoon.

Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, have been charged with cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and unlawful ownership of wild animals, prosecutors said.

“I take every crime seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but criminal,” Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in a press release.

This is a screengrab from video of weights pulled out of fish at the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament.

A video posted to Twitter showed Jason Fischer, tournament director for the Lake Erie Walley Trail, cutting open the winning catch of five walleye and finding lead weights and prepared fish filets inside them. Runyan and Cominsky, the winning anglers, were immediately disqualified.

The prosecutor’s office opened an investigation after learning of the cheating allegations.

At stake in tournament: Nearly $30,000 prize

Runyan and Cominsky participating in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament on Sept. 30 in Cleveland in which fisherman from several states competed to see who could catch the five heaviest walleye in Lake Erie. At stake was a $28,760 prize, according to an investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The tournament director sliced open Runyan and Cominsky’s fish and found ten weights inside, eight weighing 12 ounces and two weighing eight ounces, along with several walleye filets.

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Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley announced that a Cuyahoga County grand jury has returned an indictment charging two men for cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and the unlawful ownership of wild animals during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament in September 2022. Investigators seized the boat and trailer of one of the men.

Investigators seized Comisky’s boat and trailer.

The charges are fifth-degree felonies besides the unlawful ownership of wild animals charge, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor. This charge pertains to the men’s alleged possession of fish filets on their boat. A conviction on this count could result in an indefinite suspension of their fishing licenses, prosecutors said.

Runyan of Ashtabula and Cominsky of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, will be arraigned Oct. 26 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

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