Two fishermen have been convicted of cheating in a fishing contest in Utah after forensic analysis of the winning fish found it from another lake.
Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, were sentenced to 24 months probation, during which time they were banned from hunting for the shady scam where they pretended a huge catch was coming out of Lake Powell for the profit of $ 2,500 to take home.
The net closed in on the two anglers when match officials noticed some significant differences between their fish and the usual fish caught in the lake.
Judges called in forensic experts to investigate the suspected fish, who proved the winning catch was indeed a fraud.
The suspicious fish. Two fishermen have been convicted of cheating in a fishing contest in Utah after forensic analysis of the winning fish showed it came from another lake
Dennett and Wootton participated in the two-day largemouth bass fishing tournament on Lake Powell in southern Utah in October 2018.
The competition, which draws match anglers to the waters teeming with bass, catfish and walleye every year, attracted about 25 teams all competing to take home the $ 2,500 prize money.
The prize is awarded to the team that catches the five fish with the highest total weight.
At the end of the first day, the cheaters were in second place and had thus far earned the prize of the largest single fish.
But the game officials thought it looked “ fishy ” because the sea bass didn’t look the same as the other fish it was placed against, said Lieutenant Paul Washburn, a spokesman for the Utah wildlife department. New York Times.
“First, they were in a different shape, which indicates they probably have a different diet,” he said.
“And then they also had some signs of stress,” like red fins.
Officials called a biologist and the wildlife department to report their suspicions, and an investigator questioned the two men on the second day of the match.
“Neither was very keen to talk to our investigator,” Washburn told the Times.
One of them began to acknowledge somewhat that the fish might not be from Lake Powell.
A normal fish caught off Lake Powell. Robert Dennett, 45, and Kamron Wootton, 35, were sentenced to 24 months probation for the shady scam where they pretended a huge catch came out of Lake Powell to take home the $ 2,500 winnings
“Then he asked for a lawyer very quickly, and the other person wouldn’t say anything.”
The two men had also taken first, second or third place at eight other bass fishing tournaments earlier in 2018.
The bass was forensically tested in a University of Utah lab to determine where it came from, and in May 2019, researchers revealed it was not possible that it had come from Lake Powell.
Investigators later determined that the fish had been taken by the culprits from Quail Creek Reservoir, about 300 kilometers west of the lake.
Under Utah law, it is illegal to transport live fish to other parts of the state without proper certifications and could be a Class A felony.
In March, Dennett and Wootton were charged with the third-degree felony of tampering to influence a match, the Class A felony of unlawful release of wildlife and Class B felony captivity of protected wildlife.
The two men pleaded guilty to all three counts in August.
They were sentenced to 24 months probation, a 24 month ban on fishing and sentenced to 48 hours of community service.
They were also ordered to pay $ 500 in suspension fee and $ 2,500 in restitution to the wildlife department’s Help Stop Poaching Fund.
Their conviction marks the first time in Utah history that someone has been prosecuted for cheating at a fishing tournament.