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Announced winners keep WMO prizes

Passing grades given in polygraph results
By Brian Gilliland | Oct 26, 2017

(Oct. 27, 2017) The additional rounds of polygraph testing for White Marlin Open winners this year took longer than expected, but they resulted in no changes to the list of winners, who will receive $4.97 million in prize money.

The top winner of this year’s tournament is Glen Frost of Stevensville, Maryland, who is finally taking home the more than $1.6 million for his 95.5 pound white, landed on the final day of fishing this year.

In a release issued earlier this week, tournament officials said the tests were ordered about two weeks following the Aug. 11 close of the tournament, after anglers, from two boats delivered some questionable answers during the routine lie detector test.

Since 2004, the White Marlin Open has required top prize winners to submit to polygraph testing as a condition of receiving prize money, which could be millions of dollars. Polygraph testing is common in these types of fishing tournaments.

Understandably, the tournament directors wanted to be extra careful this year and included greatly expanded polygraph provisions in this year’s edition of the tournament rules. Last year’s tournament results are under appeal in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

During the 2016 tournament, only one qualifying white marlin was caught, but subsequent polygraph testing of the angler, Philip Heasley and his crew on board the Kallianassa indicated deception. Heasley was named the winner anyway, but the tournament later rescinded the $2.8 million prize money for the fish. Heasley’s catch was worth substantially more than Frost’s because his was the only qualifying fish, while there were several qualifiers this year.

On June 14, 2017, Judge Richard Bennett sided with the tournament, finding Heasley and his crew, among other potential rule violations, had lines in the water prior to the 8:30 a.m. start time.

Fishing before the official starting time each day is grounds for disqualification.

The judge ordered the payment be divided among the winners of other divisions. Heasley appealed the decision, and the matter is still under review by the court.

Since then, statements have appeared on the Kallianassa’s official Facebook page critical of the tournament, its directors and polygraphs in general — though other messages appear too, like hurricane relief.

The most recent posting about the White Marlin Open came on Oct. 17 questioning the delay in release of this year’s tournament.

“… We would like to ask why the names of the boats who failed/had inconclusives on the 2017 polygraphs have still not been released nearly two months after the second round of polygraphs,” the statement reads. “We imagine other tournament participants and supporters would also like to know why there has been no follow up or transparency on this year’s polygraphs and subsequent tournament action.”

Tournament founder Jim Motsko said it was a matter of timing.

“The process took longer than we thought because we had to work around everyone’s schedule. This isn’t just about us, we had to be fair to everybody,” he said.

In this year’s tournament, one angler failed the initial exam and another test was deemed inconclusive. The participant who failed the initial test passed a subsequent one, and the outcome of the second test on the inconclusive result has not been made public.

Motsko said in late August he would have no further comment on the issue until it had been resolved, and with the release of the statement reinforcing the announced results, he considers the 2017 tournament over.

“We’re working on next year’s tournament already,” he said.

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