ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens arrested two men last week in connection to allegations that they worked together to fraudulently claim a cash prize at the BassCashBash tournament on Sam Rayburn lake back in March.
Joe Carl Loftin Jr., 58, of Diboll, and Tanner Neal, 23, of Chester, were both arrested and charged with third-degree felony fraud in a freshwater fishing tournament with a prize more than or equal to $10,000. Each man's bail amount was set at $1,500, and Neal was released from the Angelina County Jail on June 22. Loftin was released from the jail the next day.
According to the arrest affidavit East Texas News obtained on Monday, Loftin tried to claim a prize in the BassCashBash tournament on March 11. He allegedly took two polygraph tests, and they both showed he was being deceptive.
An investigation into what happened revealed that the prize claim was fraudulent, the affidavit stated. Surveillance video from the store where the prize claim information was submitted allowed authorities to identify Neal as Loftin's accomplice, the affidavit stated.
When James Barge, a TPW game warden interviewed Loftin on April 16, he allegedly admitted that he didn't catch the fish with the tag that was submitted to collect the prize. Loftin told the game warden that Neal caught the fish and approached him about submitting and splitting the prize money, the affidavit stated.
"Video evidence from the prize claim location and an interview with the defendant's fishing partner corroborated the statements made by the defendant," the affidavit stated.