OCEAN CITY — The White Marlin Open formally asked the Worcester County Circuit Court on Friday to rule on who should receive the $2.8 million in prize money that was awarded for this year’s top catch in the tourney.
Earlier this week White Marlin Open issued a statement by Jim Motsko announcing a “possible violation of the rules” by angler Philip Heasley and the Kallianassa boat. On Thursday night, Heasley issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.
“In response to a ‘perceived to have committed’ allegation against the Kallianassa, the winner of the 2016 White Marlin Open held in Ocean City, Md., its owner regrets that there is any ambiguity surrounding its successful participation in the tournament,” the statement reads. “The owner, captain and crew adamantly state that they have followed all tournament rules and regulations without exception and have unequivocally committed no wrongdoing.”
Heasley maintains the Kallianassa will be cleared when the all of the facts are known.
“The Kallianassa’s excellent crew and superb captain have always maintained the highest levels of integrity and they will be vindicated and walking tall in the fishing community,” said Heasley.
In order to get an objective ruling on the matter, the White Marlin Open, through its attorney, according to a statement, “filed a Complaint for Interpleader in the Circuit Court for Worcester County, Maryland. By doing this the tournament directors seek to have a formal court proceeding in which a judge will determine the issues as to which angler or anglers will receive the prize.”
The statement continued, “The White Marlin Open does not share in, or receive any portion of the award, no matter to whom it is awarded, nor does it receive any portion of the money paid into court. It has no monetary interest in the proceeds of the prize money.
“The sole purpose in filing the Interpleader with the Court is to preserve the integrity of the tournament, its rules and awards, and due to the circumstances of the matter at issue, the Directors and the Tournament judges believed that the best way of resolving all controversies was to seek a judicial determination of the matter. This way, a judge can consider the matter in its entirety and make an official judgment as to the award of the prize.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the second day of the 43rd Annual White Marlin Open, the largest and richest billfishing tournament in the world, Heasley and the crew on the Kallianassa weighed a 76.5-pound white marlin. At week’s end, it turned out to be the one and only qualifying white marlin caught during the tournament, bringing in a payday of $2.8 million.
In the 33-page court document filed today, the heart of the discourse is outlined. The complaint details alleged deception on the part of Heasley and the other parties on the Kallianassa during two polygraph examinations, which are required for prize money winners after the tournament is completed.
To read a portion of the complaint, click Interpleader1.