There was apparently something fishy about the first-place catch in the Walleye category in last year’s Lake Champlain International Father’s Day Derby, and it wasn’t the smell.
Colchester police this week cited a Plattsburgh man this week for allegedly collecting thousands of dollars in winnings for a fish he didn’t even catch.
According to Lake Champlain International (LCI) Executive Director James Ehlers, a man brought a record-breaking Walleye to a weigh station during last year’s fishing derby, but he wasn’t the one who caught it.
Craig Provost of Plattsburgh was cited to appear in court on fraud charges after he collected $13,506.87 in prize money for the record-breaking Walleye.
“The angler purposely misrepresented catching the fish to allegedly claim prize money that he would not have been otherwise eligible for,” Ehlers said in an interview Friday. “It’s a disservice not just to the organization and to the event, but to the thousands of others that participate in the event.”
According to Ehlers, the person who actually caught the fish hadn’t paid an extra entry fee to qualify for a “super bonus” prize pool. Investigation revealed that Provost, who had paid his way into the “super bonus” prize pool, coordinated with that angler to enter the fish as his own in order to collect more prize money.
Ehlers said Colchester Police Sgt. Michael Fish was helpful as the investigating officer on the case.
Ehlers said he was disappointed in the alleged fraud, but added that he has a lot of trust in the thousands of people who participate in Lake Champlain International’s annual Father’s Day contest.
“The good news is this is my 18th year, I’ve never had to file a criminal complaint before and I’m always confident that in the long run people will do the right thing, information comes out and we’re always able to make things right. So there’s 20,000 plus people that participate in LCI events – the Father’s Day weekend constitutes some 5,000 – and the vast, vast majority of people are there celebrating family friends and fishing … and would never contemplate attempting to defraud their fellow anglers, the organization or to undermine the reputation of the event.”
The Father’s Day Derby, now in its 35th year, takes place this weekend and Ehlers said he hopes someone will catch a new record Walleye this year under less-fishy circumstances.