SALT LAKE CITY — A day after he rejected a plea deal in a wildlife harassment case, former TV pitchman “Super Dell” Schanze pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in federal court.
The hearing was quickly and quietly held in U.S. District Court on Friday. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah said Schanze pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of harassing wildlife and he was sentenced to a year of probation.
“The protection of Utah’s wildlife should be important to all of us. Mr. Schanze used his motorized paraglider to harass an owl to the point of exhaustion and then kicked it. His actions showed utter disregard for this protected bird,” U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen said Friday afternoon in a statement to FOX 13.
Videotape of the 2011 incident in which a paraglider was seen pursuing a barn owl and kicking it was posted online. Schanze repeatedly denied it was him in the video and on Thursday berated reporters as “liars” who will be “thrust down to Hell.” In previous court appearances, Schanze has claimed a human head was thrown in his window, and he was placed in handcuffs after interrupting another defendant’s case to chastise the judge about constitutional rights.
In Thursday’s court appearance, he refused to want to admit to the facts of the case as put forward by federal prosecutors. He apparently changed his mind on Friday.
U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson imposed the one-year probation sentence, ordered Schanze to forfeit an orange parasail (a substitute for the paraglider involved in the alleged misconduct) and he is forbidden from landing a paraglider in a federally-designated wilderness area. He is also forbidden from landing in any area closed to motorized access by a federal agency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Schanze gained fame for his local TV commercials for his “Totally Awesome Computers” business and his infomercials on topics of his choosing. He once ran for governor of Utah as the Libertarian Party candidate.