Cheating charge filed against bass tourney entrant
KANSAS CITY Mo -- A Warsaw man faces a felony charge of attempt to steal by deceit for allegedly trying to weigh in fish at a bass tournament that he caught before the tournament began.
David R. Gann, 72, was entered in a family style bass tournament on Truman Lake on June 4 when the alleged violation occurred, said Mike Burton, a Protection District Supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
A few days prior, anglers looking for a place on the lake to set trot lines came across a rope tied to a wire box in the water that contained three largemouth bass. They notified conservation agents.
Burton, Conservation Agent Rob Farr, and Protection District Supervisor Dan Love used the information to locate the fish box. Inside they found one bass weighing more than five pounds, which had died due to stress, and two live bass topping two and three pounds respectively. The agents clipped fins on the live bass and took photos for later identification, Burton said.
On the day of the tournament, the agents watched the site. They saw Gann fishing in a boat by himself near the site, Burton said, and they watched him remove fish from the box. They saw him throw away the five-pound bass that was dead and put the other two bass in his boat’s live well.
The tournament weigh-in was at Osage Bluff Marina. After Gann’s catch was weighed, conservation agents and Missouri Water Patrol officers took possession of the fish. They found fish with fins clipped by agents before the tourney began. Gann was questioned and taken into custody by Water Patrol officers.
Conservation agents issued misdemeanor citations to Gann, one for wanton waste of fish and another for having an unlabeled live box in the water.
On June 21, Prosecutor Karen Woodley filed an attempt to steal by deceit charge against Gann in Benton County Circuit Court. Gann was arraigned on June 28 and entered a not guilty plea. A hearing is set for Aug. 2.
The misdemeanor charges are punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. The Class D felony charge is punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Anyone spotting a possible fish and wildlife code violation can contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111. The telephone line is answered 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous, or they may ask to be considered for a reward of $50 to $1,000 if the information leads to an arrest. _ Bill Graham