A 72-year-old fisherman was sentenced Monday to seven days in jail for cheating in an ice fishing derby over the winter in Minnesota.
Alfred "Tom" Mead of Long Prairie caught two northern pike from another lake and kept them alive with the intention of submitting them as catches in the fishing tournament in an attempt to win the grand prize of a $10,000 Ice Castle fish house, according to WDAY News and other reports.
Mead had won the same Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby and other contests, leaving a trail of suspicion as he collected prizes in fishing contests throughout Minnesota, according to the Park Rapid Enterprise.
It was unclear how Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes caught Mead at the Feb. 2 tournament on Fish Hook Lake, but as Mead was escorted off the ice, other fishermen heckled him, yelling "Cheater!"
"What can I say, I got caught," Mead said when his cheating was exposed, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise. "God told me not to do it, but I did it anyway."
Mead pleaded guilty in Hubbard County District Court to a felony charge of "theft by swindle" in exchange for having the prosecutor drop a game and fish violation of transporting live fish.
In addition to jail time, Mead was placed on four-year probation, fined $200, order to pay a $75 public defender co-payment, and had his fishing and hunting privileges taken from him for two years in Hubbard and adjacent counties. He had been facing a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
"Your conduct had a major impact on these things [fishing tournaments]," Judge Robert Tiffany said at sentencing. "I hope you realize the seriousness of your conduct. [Cheating] takes the enjoyment and joy out of it for those who bring their kids [along with the honest participants]."
Legion members were said to be happy justice was served.