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Prison Sentences Ordered for Four in Tournament Scam

April 5, 1985 GMT

MARSHALL, Texas (AP) _ A federal judge Friday sentenced four men to prison terms ranging up to five years for their roles in a cheating ring that netted participants more than $350,000 in fishing tournament prizes.

Federal investigators said the ring won seven lucrative fishing tournaments by using large black bass purchased in Florida by Elro V. McNeil, and then pretending the fish were caught during competition.

McNeil, 32, of Bossier City, La., who prosecutors said recruited the other men in the scam, was sentenced to the maximum five-year prison sentence and fined $5,000 by U.S. District Judge Robert Parker.

Parker also ordered a five-year sentence for Gary W. Parkerson, 39, of Sarepta, La., who won the $105,000 top prize in the KYKX Radio Station Big Bass Classic in 1983. Authorities said the ring netted $139,250 in prizes from the tournament, which had 7,068 entries.

Parker sentenced Carey Harmon, 37, of Bossier City, La., to four months in prison, and Kenneth D. Puckett, 30, of Dubach, La., to six months for their participation in the Camp Texarkana Big Bass Tournament, in which the ring claimed more than $73,000 by winning the top three prizes.

All four men pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to conspiring to violate mail and wire fraud laws and interstate transportation of stolen money.

Parkerson, who is serving a seven-year sentence in a Louisiana prison for parole violation, will not begin serving the federal term until he is released from his state term.

Thomas McAlexander of Keithville, La., told prosecutors in a plea agreement that he conspired with Parkerson, McNeil and Fred G. Scheen Jr., of Shreveport, La., to take the two top prizes in the KYKX tournament.

McAlexander, now in Alaska, told investigators he claimed the $34,250 second prize with a bogus fish supplied by McNeil, and that he conspired with Scheen, Parkerson and McNeil to fix the tournament. He will be sentenced by a federal judge in Alaska, prosecutors said.

Scheen, who entered a guilty plea Friday for his role in the KYKX scheme and is to be sentenced later, said he and McNeil supplied a fish to Terry Isam, who was recruited by McNeil to enter the contest.

Isam, who has cooperated with federal authorities in the probe, has entered an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to a lesser charge.