"I take all crimes very seriously and I think what these two men are trying to do is not only shameful but criminal," Cuyahoga County District Attorney Michael O'Malley said Wednesday.
Both Runyan, who lives in Ashtabula, Ohio, and Kominsky, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, did not immediately respond to the Washington Post's request for comment. The court records do not list a lawyer for the man.
The allegations stem from the September 30 Lake Erie walleye tournament finals, when about 65 two-man teams tried for eight hours to land the five heaviest walleyes in the Great Lakes. Runyan and Kominsky, who were part of the team, appeared to win the event in Cleveland, landing five fish weighing around 34 pounds. The catch would also earn Team of the Year honors and nearly $ 30,000 by winning three more championships in June, July and September.
But tournament director Jason Fisher told The Post he had his doubts when Runyan and Kominsky's catch was officially weighed and tipped the scales at 30 pounds. Looking at the intake, Fisher estimated that the five fish weighed around 20 pounds.
"It messed me up a bit because I knew it wasn't fair," Fisher told The Post.
Working on his hump, Fisher caught one of the fish and felt something hard in his stomach. Then he opened the dead wall and made a startling discovery.
"We have fish scales." Fisher yelled, pulling out one of 10 seven-pound weights that would go into the socket. He also found some slices, another fish meat used to seal the entrance. They were later found to be in illegal possession of the animal, which could have resulted in the suspension of Runyan and Kominsky's fishing licenses, according to a press release from the Cuyahoga County Attorney's Office.
With Runyan flushed just yards away, Fisher suddenly disqualified him and Kominsky, according to the video from the September 30 event that Fisher shared with The Post.
"To go." The tournament director barked, using a yell to make his point.
In a video posted to the tournament's Facebook page last week, Fisher told viewers he was disgusted by what he found, calling it "one of the most unscrupulous acts the fishing world has ever seen."
"Personally, I've never seen anything like it in competitive fishing," Fisher said, adding, "The people involved seem to have put greed and ego above all else, and it tarnishes our sport for always".
According to the investigation, Runyan and Kominsky were accused of cheating in another tournament in northwestern Ohio in April, according to the Associated Press. Police investigated the allegations, but the local prosecutor ruled that the men had committed fraud, but there was not enough evidence to charge them, AP reported.
After Runyan and Kominsky were disqualified, tournament organizers contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, spokeswoman Stephanie O'Grady told The Post earlier this month. Wildlife agents responded to the scene, gathered evidence, and began working on a report for the Cuyahoga County Attorney's Office.
Pennsylvania authorities seized Cominksy's boat, the fiberglass model Ranger Pro Fisherman he used in a competition on Sept. 30, from his home on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Runyan and Kominsky will appear before the Cuyahoga County Criminal Court on October 26.