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By The Associated Press
(9/21/04 - TAVARES, FL) â€" It took Ronnie Lynn Robinson two years to own up to his fish tale. CM8ShowAd("CONTENT_MIDDLE")

Robinson admitted Monday to common-law cheating -- a rare crime -- for turning in what looked to be a thawed-out fish with a belly full of lead weights at a 2002 Lake County bass-fishing tournament. Robinson was charged and stripped of his nearly $2,000 prize at the Harris Chain Bassmasters Big Bass Tournament after tournament director Darren Ratliff gutted the winning fish in his kitchen and found three 8-ounce weights in its stomach.

Robinson, 51, finally admitted guilt in exchange for nine months of court supervision, during which he must stay clear of fishing contests.

Robinson's lawyer, Henry G. Ferro, said Robinson is innocent but agreed to the deal "strictly as a matter of convenience."

According to a deputy's report, Robinson caught the winning 8-pound, 6-ounce fish on Sept. 28, 2002, threw it into the live well of his boat and submitted it more than six hours later.

Tournament officials didn't question the entry at the scene, but Ratliff said it looked pale and flaccid, and, unlike most freshly dead catches, stiff from rigor mortis. The fish also looked too fat for its length, and the artificial worm in its mouth didn't have the punctures usually found on used bait, he said.

Robinson's $1,915.20 prize was nearly enough to cover his $2,000 bail.
 
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