Judge rules Heasley, crew violated White Marlin Open tourney rules
A Florida man will not get more than $2.8 million in prize money because he violated the rules of the White Marlin Open fishing tournament last August in Ocean City, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett.
The judged said that Philip G. Heasley, who caught the only prize-eligible white marlin in the contest, violated tournament rules by failing two polygraph tests.
Heasley, the president and CEO of ACI Worldwide, had testified that he did not lie on the polygraph tests.
In his order issued Wednesday, June 14, Bennett ruled that “Heasley failed to satisfy the Tournament Rules’ polygraph requirement and, therefore, failed to perform under that contract.”
The judge found that Heasley and the crew of the Kallianassa violated tournament rules when they dropped their fishing lines before 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 9, the day they caught the winning fish.
The judge’s ruling means the first-place prize winnings will be distributed among 13 other competitors who won other categories during the tournament.
Among the new prize disbursements, Richard Kosztyu of New Jersey is expected to get an additional $2,312,152. Jim Conway of Glen Burnie will get $254,620, and Mark Hutchison of Talbot County will get $140,509.
According to a statement on the WMO Facebook page, tournament officials praised the judge’s decisions: “Throughout the case, the intention of the White Marlin Open directors has been to protect the integrity of the tournament and to ensure that the rules are applied fairly for all participants.”
“I’ve never been accused of breaking a rule of law,” Heasley said in court. He said he cared more about his reputation than receiving the prize money.
Contest rules require competitors who win $50,000 or more to take a polygraph test.
This year’s 44th White Marlin Open is scheduled for Aug. 7-11.