Ex-girlfriend alerted officials in Father's Day fishing derby fraud case
Craig Provost, of Plattsburgh, holds up a huge walleye that earned him more than $13,000 in the 2015 LCI Father's Day Derby on Lake Champlain. Vermont police have since filed a felony fraud charge against Provost, alleging that one his buddies actually caught the fish and that he claimed it as his own to collect the prize money. (Courtesy of Lake Champlain International)
Colchester, Vt. – A Plattsburgh man charged with fraud for allegedly lying about a trophy fish that earned him more than $13,000 in prize money in the 2015 Lake Champlain International Father's Day Fishing Derby pleaded not guilty this morning in Vermont Superior Court.
A police affidavit filed this morning in court, however, indicates the angler "fessed up," when interviewed, according to Colchester Police Sgt. Michael Fish who wrote the report.
The angler, Craig Provost, 44, is charged with passed off another fisherman's tournament record-setting walleye as his own to collect the money in the fishing contest, which hands out $150,000 in prize money and features 5,000-plus anglers each year. Among the revelations today in court – Provost's ex-girlfriend was the one who initially tipped off derby officials to problems with Provost's story.
Provost turned in a 10.26 pound walleye, which derby officials at the time said was a new derby record for that species of fish. He collected $13,508.37 in prize money, earning $3,000 more due to the fact he had paid extra fees to enter the "super bonus pool" for increased prize money. However, rumblings in the local fishing community during the past year and a call from Lake Champlain International culminated in an investigation by Colchester, Vt. Police.
Police filed the felony fraud charge against Provost last month just before this year's derby, alleging he had lied about the catch. He was arraigned today.
Provost faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine not to exceed 2,000. The prosecutor is Thomas Donovan. The defense attorney is Stacie Johnson.
In Fish's affidavit, Lake Champlain International James Ehler said the initial information about the situation came from Teri Wood, Provost's ex-girlfriend.
The two other anglers in Provost's boat, according to an affidavit submitted by Fish, were James Braid, of Keeseville, N.Y. and Kyle LaPorte, of Chazy, N.Y.
The police investigator said when Braid was contacted he admitted catching the fish and that he had just entered the derby, but had not purchased the add-ons (cash extras). "James said that Craig saw the size of the fish and immediately said that he should register the fish as he had the add-ons with his entry form," Fish wrote. "James said that he wanted to register the fish himself, but that Craig pressured he and Kyle LaPorte into going along with it. "
"James said that he signed off on the form as a witness to the catch. James said he and Kyle got about $3,500 each and that Craig kept the rest of the money."
Speaking to Kyle LaPorte, Fish wrote that he got the same story – specifically that Braid was the one who caught the fish and that Provost pressured his fishing mates into go along with the fabrication.
Fish said that he spoke to Provost on June 16 and that he admitted that Braid did indeed catch the walleye and that he registered it as one he caught.
"He said that he did it as he was the one with the add-on for the cash extras," Fish wrote. " He said everyone got money from the fish. He said it was divided pretty equally. He said he kept $3,600 and paid $2,700 in taxes on the money."
Fish said today no charges have been filed against Braid and LePorte. All three were banned from fishing in this year's derby.
Provost is due back in court Aug. 24.