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Authorities investigating Lake Erie fishing tournament cheating allegations

The county prosecutor's office in Cleveland has opened an investigation into allegations of cheating during a lucrative walleye fishing tournament on Lake Erie last week.

A video [Warning: the linked video contains graphic language] posted to Twitter shows Jason Fischer, tournament director for the Lake Erie Walleye Trail, cutting open the winning catch of five walleye on Friday and finding lead weights and prepared fish filets inside them.

The winning anglers, Jacob Runyan, of Broadview Heights, Ohio, and Chase Cominsky, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, were immediately disqualified. 

The dramatic footage showed an increasingly outraged crowd gathering around the contestants, accusing them of cheating in previous tournaments as well and threatening to call the cops, saying that the two men had essentially stolen thousands of dollars from other competitors.

Fischer told WOIO-TV that he cut the fish open because they appeared heavier than typical walleye of that length.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Monday that the agency's officers gathered evidence from the tournament and were preparing a report for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley said his staff will be meeting with the agency's officers Tuesday.

"I take all crime seriously, including attempted felony theft at a fishing tournament," O'Malley said. "These individuals will be held accountable."

Messages seeking comment were left Monday for Runyan, Cominsky and Fischer.

In a Facebook post following the tournament, Fischer apologized for the cheating scandal. 

"Disgusted guys and gals, I'm sorry for letting you down for so long and I'm glad I caught cheating taking place in YOUR LEWT [Lake Erie Walleye Trail] at the same time," he wrote. 

Disgusted guys and gals, I’m sorry for letting you down for so long and I’m glad I caught cheating taking place in YOUR...

Posted by Lake Erie Walleye Trail on Friday, September 30, 2022

"I hope you know now that when I say 'you built this LEWT and I will defend its integrity at all costs', I mean it. You all deserve the best," Fischer added. 

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