CLEVELAND — Two fishermen who were indicted on criminal charges for allegedly cheating during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Tournament pled not guilty in court on Wednesday morning.
The arraignment hearing, which 3News live streamed took place at 8:30 a.m. The full hearing can be watched in this story.
During Wednesday's hearing, the judge set a personal bond of $2,500 for both suspects and ordered the individuals to turn in a DNA sample as well. The next court hearing for the pair is set for Nov. 9 at 9 a.m.
The hearing came after 42-year-old Jacob Runyan and 35-year-old Chase Cominsky were indicted on the following charges after allegedly placing weights and fish fillets inside their tournament-winning catch:
- One count of Cheating (felony of the fifth degree)
- One count of Attempted Grand Theft (felony of the fifth degree)
- One count of Possessing Criminal Tools (felony of the fifth degree)
- One count of Unlawful Ownership of Wild Animals (misdemeanor of the fourth degree)
Following the controversy at the tournament, the story garnered national media attention as a viral video of the scandal surfaced on social media, which can be viewed below:
According to a media release from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office, Runyan and Cominsky's fifth-degree felonies are punishable by up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines, while misdemeanors of the fourth-degree are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.
Recently, two Lake Erie fishing tournaments, the Lake Erie B’laster Fall Brawl and the National Fishing Expos Walleye Slam, have announced that they are installing safeguards to prevent future scandals from happening.
- 2 fishermen indicted on criminal charges in Cleveland fishing tournament cheating scandal
- Report: Boat, trailer from Cleveland fishing tournament controversy seized by investigators
- ODNR issues statement after Cleveland fishing tournament controversy
- Cleveland fishing tournament ends in controversy as winners caught with weights in walleye
EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above previously aired on 3News on Oct. 1, 2022.