Two men accused of cheating in an Ohio fishing tournament plead not guilty to charges

Two men accused of cheating in an Ohio fishing tournament have pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them.

Jacob Runyan and Chase Cominsky are each charged with cheating, attempted grand theft, possessing criminal tools, all felonies, and unlawful ownership of wild animals, a misdemeanor. CNN has reached out to their attorneys for comment.

The charges stem from accusations that the men cheated during the Lake Erie Walleye Trail fishing tournament in late September after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets. If they had been declared winners of the event, they would have received nearly $29,000.

The tournament’s director previously told CNN he was immediately suspicious when the team’s fish weighed almost twice what he expected at the Cleveland championship. The moment when the director discovered the alleged cheating was documented in several now-viral videos which showed him slicing open the fish with a knife and pulling out what he said was a lead ball.

For the felonies, Runyan and Cominsky face up to 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines if convicted, according to a news release from Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley.

And the men face up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines if convicted of the misdemeanor charge.

Both men posted their $2,500 bond and have been released.

Their next court appearance is scheduled for the morning of November 9.

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