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Man gets jail for cheating in fishing tournament

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. - A Long Prairie angler was given seven days in jail Monday for cheating at the Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby this winter.

Alfred “Tom” Mead, 72, pleaded guilty in Hubbard County District Court to a felony charge of theft by swindle May 20 for sneaking a previously caught fish into the tournament Feb. 2.

“Your conduct had a major impact on these things (fishing tournaments),” Judge Robert Tiffany said. “I hope you realize the seriousness of your conduct.”

Cheating, the judge said, “takes the enjoyment and joy out of it for those who bring their kids” and honest participants.

Mead admitted to catching two northern pike on another lake and keeping them alive to bring to the American Legion tournament.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutor Erika Randall dismissed the game and fish violation he’d been charged with, for transporting live fish.

The judge also pulled Mead’s fishing and hunting privileges for two years in Hubbard County and all adjacent counties.

Mead will be on probation for four years, during which he is barred from the Legion Club, was fined $200 and ordered to pay a $75 public defender co-payment.

During his probation, Randall asked that he not be allowed to participate in any fishing contests or tournaments, and that he apologize to the Legion.

After the sentencing, several Legion representatives said justice was served.

“I like what the judge said at the end about ruining a family outing,” Legion manager Jerry Benham said.

Mead has been a winner at the Park Rapids tourney before, along with other regional fishing contests in which he won major prizes.

The grand prize was an Ice Castle fish house valued at $10,000. Mead “was planning on registering the fish in the tournament in an effort to win a prize,” the criminal complaint states.

In 2009, Mead was convicted in two separate incidents. In January in Todd County, he admitted fishing over the limit, for which he paid a $145 fine and $90 in court fees. He did not appear in court. Two months later, he was convicted in Otter Tail County of “fishing with two hooks or a treble hook not attached to an artificial lure.” He was fined $35 and ordered to pay $90 in costs, again without having to appear in court.

Mead did not comment during the proceedings.

The felony he was convicted of carried a maximum of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

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Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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