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Fishermen accused of cheating at tournament indicted on criminal charges

Videos of the fishing team being accused of stuffing their catch with weights went viral last week.

The two-person fishing team who went viral last week after being accused of cheating in an Ohio competition has been indicted on criminal charges, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday.

A grand jury indicted Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, on four charges, including felony charges of cheating and attempted grand theft, according to a press release from the prosecutor's office.

Neither Runyan nor Cominsky immediately responded to voicemails from TODAY seeking comment.

Runyan and Cominsky had been accused of weighing down their prize-winning catch with lead balls during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament on Sept. 30. The tournament hosted fishermen from various states vying to catch five of the heaviest walleye fish in Lake Erie. 

In videos that went viral online, the tournament’s director, Jason Fischer, slices open Runyan and Cominsky's catch to remove what appeared to be various weights and fish fillets.

“We got weights in fish!” Fischer announces in the videos before members of the crowd erupt in a fury.

Runyan and Cominsky could have walked away with a prize of $28,760.

Now, the two face three felonies of the fifth degree, including one count of cheating, one count of attempted grand theft and one count of possessing criminal tools. They also face an unlawful ownership of wild animals charge, a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

Felonies of the fifth degree can carry up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines, the press release from the prosecutor's office said. Misdemeanors of the fourth degree can carry up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.

A conviction on the unlawful ownership of wild animals charge may result in a suspension of their fishing licenses.

“I take all crime very seriously, and I believe what these two individuals attempted to do was not only dishonorable but also criminal,” Michael C. O’Malley, the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, said in the press release. “I would like to formally thank the officers with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Hermitage Pennsylvania Police Department, the Mercer County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for their quick actions and their execution of a search warrant resulting in the seizure of criminal tools, including Defendant Cominsky’s boat and trailer.”

Runyan and Cominsky will be arraigned at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center at a later date.