Hermitage, Ashtabula men plead not guilty to cheating in fishing tournament
Two men appeared in a Cleveland courtroom Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to allegations that they cheated in an attempt to win a fishing tournament.
Bond was set at $2,500 each for Chase Cominsky, 35, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and Jacob Runyan, 42, of Ashtabula, Ohio. Both are free on bond and have been ordered not to have contact with the victims.
Another court hearing is scheduled for November 9.
The men were indicted by the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury earlier this month on charges of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and unlawful ownership of wild animals.
The two are accused of placing lead weights in fish during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament in Cleveland.
Lake Erie Walleye Trail Director Jason Fischer was alarmed when a seemingly 4-pound Walleye weighed in at 8-pounds. Fischer cut open the Walleye and found lead weights inside.
Both men were disqualified from the competition and escorted from the park.
If Runyan and Cominsky had won the tournament, they would have received a total prize of $28,760.
“I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but also criminal”, said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley.
Each of the men is charged with three fifth-degree felonies and one fourth-degree misdemeanor.
Felonies of the fifth degree are punishable by up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. Misdemeanors of the fourth degree are punishable up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.
If convicted, the two men could be forced to forfeit the boat and trailer they used during the tournament.
Authorities have already seized the boat and trailer from Cominsky’s Hermitage home.