72-year-old Alfred Mead sentenced to jail time for cheating during fishing competition

Mead tried to win a Park Rapids fishing competition with the help of fish he caught on another lake.
Mead tried to win a Park Rapids fishing competition with the help of fish he caught on another lake.

Alfred "Tom" Mead will be spending a week of his twilight years behind bars after he was sentenced to a week in jail for cheating during the Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby last February.

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Mead, 72, was busted trying to sneak two live northern pike he'd caught on another lake onto Fish Hook Lake during the competition. He falsely claimed he caught the two during the derby in hopes of winning the grand prize, which was a $10,000 Ice Castle fish house.

The Park Rapids Enterprise, citing a criminal complaint, reports that Mead told the officer who busted him, "What can I say? I got caught. God told me not to do it but I did it anyway."

The Enterprise reports that "a trail of suspicion has followed Mead for years." Though he's won a number of fishing competitions in the Park Rapids area, he's been convicted of two separate fishing-related offenses since 2009: fishing over the limit and fishing with illegal hooks.

As Mead was being escorted off the ice by the Hubbard County Sheriff after he was caught cheating last winter, the crowd serenaded him with a chant of, "Cheater!" the Enterprise reports.

Mead pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by swindle.

"Your conduct had a major impact on [the fishing tournament]" Judge Robert Tiffany told him, according to Forum Communications. "I hope you realize the seriousness of your conduct."

Cheating "takes the enjoyment and joy out of it for those who bring their kids," the judge continued.

A week in jail is no fun, but perhaps worse is another component of Mead's punishment -- he's lost his hunting and fishing privileges for two years in Hubbard County and all adjacent counties, the Bemidji Pioneer reports, and he's also banned from all fishing contests for four years.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at

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