KANSAS CITY – A sponsor of a fishing tournament team that came in second place in the 2015 Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters Tournament Trail alleges the winner engaged in a fraudulent scheme.
The lawsuit was filed by Chicky Tackle Co. LLC in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on Dec. 27 against Mike Vallentine of Clinton and Crappie Masters Inc., also in Clinton.
"While running the series of tournaments, defendants engaged in a fraudulent scheme and activities during the 2015 Tournament Trail that resulted in the team of Scott and Billy Williams, known as the Johnson Fishing Team, which was a major Crappie Masters tournament sponsor, winning the 2015 Anglers of the Year award, one point in front of the team sponsored by plaintiff," states the complaint.
Chicky Tackle Co. is located in Helotes, Texas.
Among other allegations, Chicky Tackle claims that at St. John's River One-day Tournament held in Florida in January 2015, the Lucas Oil Team witnessed the Johnson Fishing Team boat and defendant Vallentine’s boat "touching approximately 150-200 yards off in the distance."
"Matt Morgan witnesses Scott Williams returning two batteries to defendant Vallentine at the weigh-in trailer and heard Scott Williams (thank) defendant Vallentine for the use of the batteries," the suit states. "The loaning of the batteries by defendant Vallentine violated tournament rules."
The suit also states at a tournament at Turman Lake in Missouri in August 2015, Vallentine, in violation of tournament rules, allegedly "showed the Johnson Fishing Team where to fish, as it was the first time they had ever been to this lake."
"Again, the Johnson Fishing Team unfairly earned tournament points as a result of defendants’ improper acts that helped them in fishing the lake from advantageous positions," the suit states.
After complaints were lodged, Crappie Masters ordered "truth verification tests" of those involved, but only three were administered and Scott Williams and Billy Williams allegedly failed.
"Defendants were aware of the failures, but covered up the results," the suit says.
Chicky Tackle seeks $75,000 in actual damages and $150,000 in punitive damages. It also states it seeks specific performance in recalculating award points and awards for the 2015 Angler of the Year competition. It is represented by Hinshaw & Culbertson of St. Louis.