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'Super' Dell Schanze found guilty of reckless driving

Published June 8, 2010 2:00 pm

Court • 'We just showed that the justice system is screwed up,' former computer pitchman said.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Orem • The second time wasn't the charm for "Super" Dell Schanze.

A three-man, one-woman jury found the former computer pitchman guilty Monday of reckless driving and a seat belt violation. The jury deliberated for less than an hour.

The verdict backed the one reached in Saratoga Springs Justice Court last year.

Schanze had been sentenced to 10 days in jail and fined $670 in the justice court, and 4th District Judge Thomas Low reaffirmed that sentence. Schanze had already paid the fine and served eight days in jail. The reckless driving charge was a Class-B misdemeanor, while the seat belt violation was an infraction.

The charges stem from an Aug. 18, 2008, incident in which Schanze rocked his rental car back and forth on Redwood Road, causing a state Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division officer to run off the road for fear of being hit.

When Schanze was pulled over, he was not wearing a seat belt and his two oldest daughters, then ages 14 and 11, were sharing a single seat belt in the front seat of the car.

Schanze, who occasionally fidgeted during the trial and glared at prosecution witnesses, showed no emotion when the verdict was read. After the trial, Schanze maintained his innocence, claiming he never left his lane of travel.

"We just showed that the justice system is screwed up," Schanze said. "The whole thing has been a farce." He claimed he was denied the right to a jury or counsel during his justice court trial.

Schanze claimed he rocked the car to entertain his children during a ride to get ice cream at a fast-food restaurant.

Harold W. Stone III, Schanze's attorney, said that Schanze couldn't have been driving recklessly because the law requires multiple traffic violations to occur for driving to be considered reckless.

He pointed out that everyone agreed Schanze was driving the speed limit and that he stayed within his lane of travel. And, he noted, there is no law that states how a driver should use that lane, as long as they stay within it.

"It was something that shouldn't have been charged," Stone said.

But Lindsay Jarvis, Saratoga Springs prosecutor, said Schanze "willfully and wantonly" drove in a way that put people at risk, even if he stayed within his one lane of travel.

"Mr. Schanze's family may have been happy [with the rocking of the car], but Officer [Michael] Paletta was not happy," Jarvis said "His adrenaline was pumping when he saw a 4,000-pound weapon hurtling toward him."

Paletta testified that he was driving south to his home in Saratoga Springs when he saw a white PT Cruiser "shaking" in the northbound lane of Redwood Road in a construction zone that narrowed the street to two lanes of traffic. When the cars were within 120 feet of each other, Paletta saw the car weave again, forcing him to take evasive action and run onto the dirt construction area.

Even though Schanze stayed in his lane, Paletta said he could have easily lost control and hit him, or even clipped his unmarked Dodge Charger with a side mirror.

Paletta then turned around, pursued Schanze and stopped him on Commerce Drive.

Jarvis said Schanze's recklessness was also manifest in that he was rocking a rental car that he was unfamiliar with in a construction zone with restricted lanes.

Plus, using testimony from Schanze's family, Jarvis said Schanze did the rocking at the instigation of his then 7-year-old son.