A Whale of a Fail

The winner of this year’s White Marlin Open allegedly failed a polygraph test, but he refuses to return the $2.8 million in prize money he received.

This 76.5-pound white marlin won the White Marlin Open by default, but the angler later failed a polygraph. (Photo: Fin & Field)

 

A little more than a week has passed since SCD brought you the story of a tournament angler who won first, second, and third place for a single fish. Phillip Heasley of the Kallianassa boated a 76½-pound marlin on August 9, the second day of this year’s White Marlin Open. While the fish itself wasn’t particularly large in the annals of the tournament, it was the winning catch because no one else landed anything that qualified for the competition.

As a result, Heasley was set to win $2,818,662 million—his first-place winnings and the monies set aside for second and third place. He was set to win that amount; a polygraph test administered after the tournament victory and his alleged failure to pass said test have led to Heasley’s disqualification and a courtroom drama.

According to court documents entered by the WMO, the polygraph was administered August 13, the day after the tournament closed. Heasley and David Morris, captain of the Kallianassa, both took the test, with the officials asking them a series of questions. Three questions threw up red flags:

1) “Did you commit any Tournament violations on Tuesday?”

2) “Did you commit any Tournament violations on your vessel?”

3) “Did you commit any Tournament violations?”

The two reportedly answered “No,” “No,” “No,” but the polygraph showed “Yes,” “Yes,” “Yes.” Three other crew members also allegedly lied in their polygraph tests, with it eventually coming to light that the winning marlin had been caught at 8:15 a.m. the morning of August 9. Tournament rules required the catch to be made after 8:30 a.m. to qualify; the time-of-catch on the boat’s logs appeared to have been changed to read “9:05 a.m.” sometime later.

Heasley maintained his innocence before the polygraph was administered. When the results were returned and he was asked to distribute his prize money among the other competitors, he reportedly refused. In lieu of the findings and Heasley’s refusal, the WMO has filed a suit in Maryland’s Worcester County Circuit Court seeking the return of the prize money, compensation for legal fees, and “such other and further relief” as may be required.

 

 

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