This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The former "Super Dell" of local television commercial fame is now facing federal misdemeanor criminal charges for allegedly chasing and harassing an owl, a episode that apparently showed up on YouTube.
Dell Schanze, 45, of American Fork, was charged Tuesday in U.S. District Court for Utah with violating the Airborne Hunting Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. He allegedly used a motorized paraglider to chase and harass a barn owl in February or March of 2011.
The line went dead when Schanze was reached by phone and asked for comment. Two other calls went unanswered.
If convicted Schanze faces a possible one-year jail term and a fine of up to $100,000 for harassing wildlife and six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine for pursuing a migratory bird. The government also is seeking forfeiture of any guns, aircraft or other equipment used to harass a bird.
Videos posted on YouTube last year showed a paraglider pilot chasing and kicking an owl. It did not show the pilot's face but was removed from YouTube after it went viral because of a copyright claim by Schanze. Another showed a pilot shooting at the shore of a lake and the water.
A summons will be issued for Schanze to appear in court, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. No appearance had been scheduled by early Tuesday evening.
Schanze was arrested in June 2011 in Oregon for paragliding off the 125-foot high Astoria Column, an historic city structure. According to the Daily Astorian, he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor, paid a $1,000 fine and wrote a letter of apology to the city of Astoria.
In Utah, he was found guilty in June 2010 of class B misdemeanor reckless driving and three seat-belt violations for an incident in Saratoga Springs in which he was driving erratically with several children in a car.
Schanze is the former owner of Totally Awesome Computers, which he used to tout on lively TV commercials as Super Dell. The business collapsed in March 2006, with Schanze blaming its demise on the news media.
In June 2003, he walked away from an ultralight aircraft crash near Magna. Four months later, some American Indians were offended by a TV ad about a fictional, notoriously stupid tribe called the "Shiffers," indicating anyone who did not buy a Totally Awesome computer had "Shiffer brains."
A former vice president of the company settled a lawsuit for $2 million in 2005 against Totally Awesome Computers that alleged religious and ethnic discrimination.
In August 2006, Schanze was found guilty of a class B misdemeanor in 3rd District Court for making false statements to a Draper police officer.
Also in 2006, Schanze pleaded no contest to a class B misdemeanor charge of public nuisance in Draper's justice court for buzzing Interstate 15 in a paraglider.
Since the demise of the company, Schanze has dipped into politics, running unsuccessfully for Salt Lake County mayor in 2008.