By Chris Boyette, CNN
Two anglers accused of stuffing fish in an attempt to win thousands of dollars at an Ohio fishing tournament last month have been charged, authorities announced Wednesday.
The would-be tournament winners, Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky, were indicted by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on one charge each of cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, and the unlawful ownership of wild animals, prosecutors said.
“I take all crime very seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but also criminal,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said in a news release.
Runyan and Cominsky were disqualified from the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets — a moment documented in several videos shared on social media. If they had been declared the winners of the event, they would have received nearly $29,000.
The tournament’s director found 10 weights inside the fish — eight 12-ounce weights and two 8-ounce weights — in addition to several walleye filets, prosecutors allege.
Jason Fischer, the director, previously told CNN he was immediately suspicious when one team’s fish weighed almost twice what he expected they would at the Cleveland championship weigh-in.
After hearing the crowd grumbling and questioning the numbers himself, Fischer felt the fish and then sliced one open with a knife, only to find what he said was a lead ball.
Video of the discovery went viral, and the cheating scandal has rocked the competitive fishing world.
On Tuesday, authorities seized Cominsky’s boat used in the fishing tournament as well as his boat trailer, according to prosecutors.
Neither Runyan nor Cominsky responded to CNN’s previous requests for comment, and it wasn’t immediately clear if either man had legal representation.
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