June 27, 2017
By Game & Fish Online Staff
The men are accused of cheating at bass tournament held at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas
Two Texas men are facing felony fraud charges after they allegedly deceived a bass-tournament event to win prize money.
According to published reports, Joe Carl Loftin, 58, of Doboli, Texas, and Tanner Neal, 23, of Chester are each charged with third-degree felony fraud in a fishing tournament with a prize of $10,000 or more.
The men were arrested by Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens last week.
The charges stem from a March incident in a BassCashBash tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, in which investigators said Loftin,, who was entered in the tournament, tried to claim a prize with a bass caught by Neal, who was not entered,
The tournament offered cash and prizes to anglers catching tagged bass at Sam Rayburn from Jauary through April, according to its website. The entry fee was $50.
The Lufkin Daily News reported, citing the arrest warrant, that officials became suspicious after Loftin took two polygraph tests, and apparently showed signs he was lying. Subsequent investigation included Loftin admitting the two men allegedly agreed to split the money, the newspaper reported.
It was unclear how much the fish was worth.
Loftin admitted to the deception in April, according to news reports.
BassCashBash made a statement about the incident on Facebook, including:
"As long as anglers are enjoying our format we will not allow one incident spoil things for our other participants and we will continue to polygraph all of our winners just as we've done these last two years."
Visit the organization's Facebook page
Both men posted $1,500 bail, and have been released from the Angelina County jail, according to KTRE-TV. Neal was released on June 23; Loftin was released June 23.