A Lees Summit, Mo. man pled guilty to contest fraud on Jan. 25, 2006 in Natchitoches Parish for cheating during a Bassmaster fishing tournament on the Red River in November.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement Division agents arrested Paul E. Tormanen, 39, on Nov. 11, 2005 after he weighed in a black bass at the CITGO Bassmaster Central Open. The fish had been caught prior to the tournament.
B.A.S.S. officials had alerted LDWF agents to the possibility of contest fraud after they were contacted by a fisherman who had snagged one of the fish while practicing for the upcoming event.
Agents secretly marked the fish and returned it to the stump where it had been found. On Nov. 10, Tormanen brought the marked fish to the scales at the Grand Ecore boat launch and had it officially weighed in to count toward the total weight of his catch. B.A.S.S. officials informed agents and the investigation continued. After weighing in his next days catch, Tormanen was questioned by agents. He admitted to catching several bass before the tournament and tying them to stumps in order to weigh them in during the tournament.
Judge Eric Harrington from the 10th Judicial District accepted Tormanens guilty plea and issued a suspended sentence of six months in the parish jail, fined him $588.50 and placed him on probation for two years. In addition, Harrington ordered Tormanen to perform 120 hours of community service through an approved wildlife and fisheries organization and banned him from participating in any fishing tournament where prizes are awarded during the period of his probation. Harrington also ordered Tormanen to pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 to B.A.S.S., LLC.
Agents participating in the case were Lt. Richie McCarthy, Lt. Bill Tyree, Sgts. Chuck Dison and Patrick Staggs and Senior Agents Eric Droddy and Billy Shoemaker. Natchitoches Parish District Attorney Van Kysar prosecuted the case.
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