It's oh-fish-ial: Two men who made headlines around the world when they were caught stuffing lead weights inside their fish during an Ohio tournament have been now charged with a slew of crimes.
A grand jury returned an indictment against Jacob Runyan, 42, and Chase Cominsky, 35, for the felonies of cheating, attempted grand theft, and possessing criminal tools, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley announced in a statement on Wednesday.
They are also facing the misdemeanor offense of unlawful ownership of wild animals due to their alleged possession of fish fillets on their boat — a conviction for which could see them lose 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,” O’Malley said.
According to the indictment, the pair participated in the Sept. 30 Lake Erie Walleye Trail tournament where they "did knowingly engage in conduct designed to corrupt the outcome" in order to win $29,000.
Fishing enthusiasts from a number of states were taking part in the competition in which anglers had to catch five of the heaviest walleye fish they could.
But tournament organizers were immediately suspicious at the weigh-in because each of Runyan and Cominsky's fish weighed in at at least 7 pounds, instead of the 4 pounds they appeared to be.
“I thought, There’s just no way,” tournament director Jason Fischer told CNN earlier this month. “I could also hear the crowd grumbling, like, ‘No way, there’s no way.’
“I physically felt the fish, I could feel hard objects inside the fish,” he said.
A viral video showed organizers cutting open the fish to reveal a total of 10 weights, each weighing either 8 or 12 ounces.
As Fisher yelled, "We got weights in fish!" the angry crowd booed the men, who were immediately disqualified.
On Tuesday, authorities seized a boat and trailer belonging to Comisnky that was used during the tournament.
If convicted, the pair could face a year in prison and a $2,500 fine on each of the felony counts.
The men are not expected to be arraigned until later this month, and it was not immediately clear whether they had retained an attorney.