Game Warden probe nets guilty plea in bass tourney cheating try

ROCKWALL (News Release) - A Garland man has pled guilty to stuffing a lead weight into a bass during a fishing tournament last fall, the outcome of an investigation by a Dallas-based Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden.

Forty-five-year-old Robby Rose, a competitive bass fisherman, entered a guilty plea in 382nd State District Court April 13 to the state jail felony offense of attempted theft over $20,000 but less than $100,000.  Judge Brett Hall sentenced Rose to five years probation, 15 days in jail and loss of his fishing license for the duration of his probation.

The charge stems from an incident that occurred during the 2009 Bud Light Trail Boss Big Bass Tournament on Lake Ray Hubbard last October 24. The grand prize at the tournament was a $55,000 bass boat for the angler who caught the biggest fish by weight.

"We took this case very seriously," said Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney Kenda Culpepper. "As far as we were concerned, the case was about a $55,000 bass boat, not a ten-pound fish."

Halfway through the competition, Rose turned in a fish. While Rose went to the polygraph area, weigh-in officials noticed that the bass had settled near the bottom of the tank it had been placed in. After examining the fish and finding a lump in its belly, they located Rose and told him they intended to cut it open.

At that point, Rose took the fish, massaged its belly, and removed a one-pound lead weight from its gullet. Game Warden Tom Carbone investigated the incident and turned his findings over to the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney's Office, which filed the attempted felony theft charge against Rose April 9.

"Cheating is cheating," said lead prosecutor Alex Imgrund, "and neither the fishing community, nor this office, will tolerate it."