Two Anglers Busted for Cheating in Lake Erie Walleye Tournament Facing Felony Charges

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Recently, two anglers started receiving accusations of stuffing fish with lead weights and fillets during an Ohio walleye tournament. The tournament’s prize totaled thousands of dollars. The fishermen were indicted on Wednesday with charges of attempted grand theft, among other counts.

Jacob Runyan, 42, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, 35, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, received indictments in Cleveland on multiple felony charges. They include: cheating, attempted grand theft and possessing criminal tools. They also received misdemeanor charges of unlawfully owning wild animals. Their arraignment will take place on October 26.

Neither man immediately responded to requests by ESPN for comments.

The cheating allegations first surfaced on September 30.

Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament director Jason Fischer became suspicious of Runyan and Cominsky. Their fish were significantly heavier than walleye of that length typically are.

Then, Fischer cut the walleye open to a crowd of people at Gordon Park in Cleveland. He then announced to the gathered crowd that there were weights and walleye fillets stuffed inside.

An officer from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources confiscated the fish as evidence.

Fischer also didn’t return ESPN’s request for comment.

Notably, Runyan and Cominsky would have received $28,760 in prizes for winning the tournament had they not been caught for cheating.

Same Two Men May Have Cheated in a Previous Walleye Tournament

According to search warrant affidavits, the five walleye contained a total of eight 12-ounce (.34 kilogram) lead weights. They also contained two 8-ounce (.23 kilogram) weights, as well as the fish fillets.

Officers from ODNR, the Hermitage Police Department and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission responded to the scene. They seized a boat, trailer and fishing gear belonging to Cominsky on Tuesday in Pennsylvania. The anglers had used the boat during last month’s tournament, according to the affidavits.

One of the affidavits disclosed that Runyan and Cominsky had been previously investigated for similar allegations.

Rossford police in northwest Ohio investigated the pair in April after being accused of cheating in a different walleye tournament.

According to a Rossford police report, an assistant Wood County prosecutor concluded that the men possibly cheated. However, he said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge them.

Now, it seems like karma came back to bite these two dishonest anglers.