Ocean City Today

WMO orders more polygraphs for ‘17 winners

Anglers need retests as one failed lie detector, other’s result deemed inconclusive
By Brian Gilliland | Aug 24, 2017

(Aug. 25, 2017) Though he did not identify the boats or people involved, White Marlin Open tournament founder Jim Motsko confirmed this week that additional lie detector tests were ordered for two winners of this year’s tournament, with another test scheduled for today, Friday.

Motsko said one angler did not pass the initial exam following Ocean City’s largest annual fishing tournament, which ended on Aug. 11.

That angler on Tuesday took advantage of his right to an additional exam, selecting from one of three vendors provided by the tournament, and passed, Motsko said.

“We haven’t received the charts yet. Once we get the paperwork, we’ll send it to an expert for review,” Motsko said.

Once the report has been reviewed, Motsko said the determination would be made on whether to order additional tests on others aboard the vessel.

The results of a test on another participant were inconclusive, Motsko said. Two others aboard the second unidentified vessel submitted to examination and passed the testing, and an additional test is scheduled for the original interviewee today, he said.

Though the regulations concerning polygraph testing have been present at the White Marlin Open since at least 2004, and are standard for many big money fishing tournaments, this year’s tournament followed a more rigorous path.

That’s because of litigation between the tournament and last year’s announced winner Philip Heasley, who was later disqualified due to a lie detector test result indicating deception.

District Court Judge Richard Bennett ruled in June that Heasley’s lines were in the water before the 8:30 a.m. start time and so the fish he landed at the time, which ended up being the sole qualifying white marlin that year, disqualified him from the tournament.

In July, the court approved a plan to divide the prize money among other winning anglers and opened the door for an appeal.

Heasley walked through the door only a couple of weeks later, freezing the payout to other anglers while the appeal made its way through the legal system.

Earlier this month, Heasley’s lawyers made a two-pronged request of the court, first, it was successfully argued that the decision made by Bennett on the outcome and payout plan of the previous case be held off until the appeal is complete, which is a relatively standard occurrence during these proceedings. Second, Heasley’s team argued against the payment of a bond, which can be used to ensure an appeal is not frivolous or meant to delay payment.

As appeals can go on for years, the bond payment by the loser of the initial case is required to show the proceedings are entered into in good faith.

Bennett ordered Heasley to pay almost $282,000, or about 10 percent of the total winnings, within two weeks of the decision.

Heasley’s counsel argued that since the prize money is in an interest-bearing account, if he should lose the appeal, the other parties would sufficiently benefit from the new balance, covering the costs of appeal without the bond payment.

However, the court noted that the rate paid on the account where the money is held is significantly lower than interest rates the other anglers could be earning on their shares of the prize money, and so ordered the supersedeas bond to cover the disparity.

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