Sport fishermen indicted with felonies in cheating scandal

A pair of fishermen at the center of a cheating scandal that rocked the world of sport fishing last month were indicted Wednesday on multiple felonies, accused of stuffing their catch with metal weights at an Ohio tournament in an attempt to win tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, were indicted in Cleveland on felony charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools and misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals.

Neither Runyan nor Cominsky immediately replied to requests for comment from The Washington Post. Court records do not yet list attorneys for the men.

The indictments stem from the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament’s final championship competition on Sept. 30. Runyan and Cominsky, a two-man fishing team, appeared to have won the one-day event in Cleveland, having submitted five fish that weighed in at nearly 34 pounds. That catch also would have secured them team-of-the-year honors — and nearly $30,000 — since they’d won multiple other events over the past few months.

But tournament director Jason Fischer told The Post in the days after the tournament that he grew suspicious when Runyan and Cominsky’s catch was officially weighed and the scale topped 30 pounds. Eyeballing the entry, Fischer had estimated the set of five fish would come in around 20 pounds.

“It just kind of deflated me, because I just knew it wasn’t right,” Fischer told The Post.

Fishermen nearly won a tournament. Then weights were found in the fish.

Acting on his hunch, Fischer grabbed one of the fish and felt something hard in its stomach. He then cut open the dead walleye and made a startling discovery.

“We got weights in fish!” Fischer shouted, pulling out one of 10 weights that would be found in Runyan and Cominsky’s entry.

As Runyan stood red-faced just a few feet away, Fischer disqualified him and Cominsky in dramatic fashion, according to a one-minute video that Fischer shared with The Post.

“Get out of here!” the tournament director barked, using a curse word to emphasize the point.

Fishermen Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky were disqualified from a fishing tournament in Cleveland on Sept. 30 after allegedly stuffing their fish with weights. (Video: Jackson Barton, Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

After Runyan and Cominsky’s disqualification, tournament organizers contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spokeswoman Stephanie O’Grady told The Post earlier this month. Wildlife officers went to the event site, where they collected evidence, and began working on a report for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.

Runyan and Cominsky are scheduled to be arraigned in Cuyahoga County criminal court on Oct. 26.

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