LAS VEGAS, NV — Mike Hart, who was disqualified from the 2010 WON BASS U.S. Open at Lake Mead for weighing in fish with lead weights in their stomachs is being prosecuted by the state of Nevada for fraud.
WON BASS Tournament Director Billy Egan, who weighed in Hart's fish and later spoke to him after his disqualification, was ordered to testify in the case, and was ordered to appear Dec. 16.
While the state district attorney's office is charging Hart with fraud via a criminal complaint filed by the Nevada State Department of Wildlife, the more specific charge (statute 205.380) is for "attempting to obtain money or property under false pretenses." The Category B felony carries a sentence of 1 to 10 years in state prison and no more than $10,000 in fines, or a combination thereof.
Hart's disqualification was national news at the U.S. Open. After WON BASS officials found a fish with weights and hooks in it on the second day of the three-day tournament, a plan was put into effect to find the suspected cheater by WON BASS staff and the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The weight, secured in the fish's stomach by small treble hooks, was found in one of the few dead fish that had been inspected in what is essentially catch-and-release event. Bass fishermen, however, can weigh in dead fish, but they are penalized 2 tenths of a pound.
Thus, a short list of anglers who brought in dead fish was created, and their fish were given extra attention when presented on the final weigh-in. More than one fish presented by Mike Hart on day three had similar weights with hooks after inspection by WON BASS and Nevada officials.
Hart was not arrested at the scene, and Nevada officials at
the time said they had no immediate plans to prosecute. Hart's fish, with the weights, would have likely put him in the top
10 and would have resulted in a minimum of a $5,000 payday, said WON BASS director