The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they finally caught up with a serial criminal named Alfred Mead, ending his reign of terror in the rural Minnesota competitive fishing community.
Mead is 72, and he goes by the name "Tom," no doubt because no one, anywhere, wants to fuck with a guy named "Tom." Last month, when Tom Mead pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by swindle, the Park Rapids Press-Enterprise said he had "two gaming convictions and a litany of suspicion dogging him."
As the Press-Enterprise further explained:
Although he denied cheating in a previous Enterprise interview, a trail of suspicion has followed Mead for years, as he racked up prizes at angling contests throughout Minnesota.
But Tom Mead couldn't outrun the law forever.
Tom Mead's previous crimes? In 2009, he admitted to fishing over the limit in Todd County, which is about 130 miles northwest of Minneapolis. Two months later, authorities in Otter Tail County nabbed him for what the Press-Enterprise described as "fishing with two hooks or a treble hook not attached to an artificial lure." God, that sounds awful. What a monster. In both cases, Tom Mead paid a fine. But this was small potatoes. These acts were just a prelude to Tom Mead's biggest attempted heist, the one with the gigantic grand prize attached to it.
Back in February, Tom Mead entered the Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby, which must be like the Super Bowl of February ice fishing tournaments in Hubbard County. Tom Mead's master plan? To take a couple of northern pike he caught on some other lake, keep them alive, and bring them to the tournament. It was perfect. Maybe too perfect. The derby's grand prize? A $10,000 Ice Castle fish house. And Tom Mead just had to have it. What could possibly go wrong?
If it weren't for the eagle-eyed Hubbard County sheriff Cory Aukes, Tom Mead might still be a menace to Minnesota. Aukes caught Tom Mead, and when he did, Tom Mead was defiant to the end. The criminal complaint said Tom Mead told Aukes, "What can I say? I got caught. God told me not to do it but I did it anyway." Tom Meade was apprehended right in front of the good people of Hubbard County. They immediately expressed their collective relief that Tom Mead would at last be brought to justice:
Aukes said he had difficulty escorting Mead off the ice Feb. 2 because so many people were heckling him and yelling, “Cheater!”
The notorious Tom Mead was sentenced to seven days in jail. He lost his hunting and fishing privileges in Hubbard County and all adjacent counties. He's been barred from the Legion Club for four years, during which time he cannot take part in any fishing contests or tournaments. Tom Mead also must apologize to the Legion Club. The Minnesota fishing community, at long last, can feel some measure of safety.