March 16, 2005
Filed under Features
FINAL INDICTMENT FOR NELSON ARSON
Thomas Klein, owner of Tom’s Cycle in St. Johns, Mich., has been indicted for his alleged role in a fire that destroyed Nelson’s Speed Shop in Greenville, Mich. It is expected to be the final indictment in this case.
The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury. If convicted, Klein could face a fine of $250,000 and three years in prison. Two other men, Richard Crew and Stewart Barron, were indicted and plead guilty to arson charges. Crew and Barron are scheduled to be sentenced in March. Each face a maximum penalty of 40 year in prison and a $250,000 fine
According to the grand jury investigation on Crew and Barron, Klein allegedly paid Crew to burn the competing dealership. Crew had been a salesman at Tom’s Cycle. Crew then hired Richard Robertson, who in turn hired Barron to burn the building. Robertson is not expected to be charged, as he was an informant.
Klein was not charged in the original indictment, due to a deal with the prosecutor that postponed the charges. A trial date has not been set for Klein.
Nelson’s Speed Shop burned on September 17, 2001, and caused an estimated $2.5 million in damages. Owner Jack Nelson has rebuilt the dealership at the same site. Nelson’s Speed Shop sells the Polaris, Yamaha, Arctic Cat lines, as well as Honda power equipment, Stihl saws, John Deere products and multiple brands of trailers.
POLARIS’ EASTMAN RETIRES
Bob Eastman, long-time Polaris engineer and former racer, retired on January 20. Eastman started his career with Polaris as a welder, but he was quickly drawn into the manufacturer’s race department, where he worked his way up to manager of the race department. He led the Polaris race team from 1975 to 1979 and was a racer, as well. Eastman claimed titles across the United States and Canada including the World Championship at Eagle River, Wisconsin, in 1973. He stopped racing in 1974. Eastman moved to Polaris’ engineering department in 1979, where he served until his retirement.
“SNOWMOBILE KILLER” GETS DEATH SENTENCE
A Connecticut man has been sentenced to death in a murder-for-hire where the payoff was a late-model, broken snowmobile.
Eduardo Santiago Jr., of Torrington, was sentenced in late January to death by lethal injection as well as to more than 45 years of prison related charges.
Santiago killed Joseph Niwinski in December 2000 in a murder-for-hire scheme.
Santiago was hired by Mark Pascual, also of Torrington, to kill Niwinski. Pascual was interested in Niwinski’s girlfriend. Pascual said he agreed to give Santiago a pink-striped snowmobile with a broken clutch in exchange for the murder. Pascual is facing 25 to 110 years in prison under a plea deal.
WAHLS, OTTO INDUCTED INTO HALL OF FAME
Business owners Dave Wahl and Durmont Wahl, of performance shop Wahl Bros. Racing, were inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame on January 13. They were chosen for their business abilities, as well as their racing and tuning skills. “We get awesome support from all the factories. Thanks Durmont. Thanks everybody,” Dave Wahl said, accepting the induction. The Wahls entered the Hall of Fame, based in St. Germain, Wis., with two other men. Ted Otto, who worked in Polaris’ marketing department and was a stunt driver with the Polaris Thrill Team, was inducted. He’s now the flagman at the USSA series of oval races. “My wife accuses me of always finding a way to make a living and get to play and she’s probably right,” Otto said. “I’m still racing, I just don’t get to sit on the seat anymore. Thank you for allowing me the best view in the arena. I”m not ready to retire yet, but when I do go, I hope I can leave the sport a little better than I found it.” Myron Herrick, founder of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs in 1968, was inducted, as well. “I’m very proud of what I started though I never realized when I started it what it was going to end up becoming,” Herrick said.
CHALLENGE GRANT FOR HOF
An Illinois-based family will match up to $100,000 for donations made to the building fund Snowmobile Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame president Loren Anderson announced that Jim Warning of New Lenox, Illinois, and his sons Kevin and Keith have offered the match. Anderson said they need $300,000 for a new building and have already collected $90,000. The length of the fund drive is still to be determined, but Anderson expects it to last six months to a year. The Warnings are snowmobile collectors and own the original Boss Cat dragster sleds. They will also donate several of their pieces to the Hall of Fame as part of a revolving collection. “This is a dream I’ve been hoping for and it should mean a great step forward,” Anderson said.
CAT/ATOMIC FORM PARTNERSHIP
Arctic Cat Inc., Thief River Falls, Minn., has joined with the snowboard division of Atomic Skis Inc. to make a backcountry snowmobile for snowboarders. The speciality sled is a 2005 Arctic Cat King Cat with a 162-inch track. The machine has a billet aluminum snowboard rack mounted on the rear of the tunnel, which accommodates two boards. Atomic Northern Rockies Sales Rep Eric Pearson and Atomic Team rider Jason Murphy will promote and ride the King Cat 900s. The snowmobile will be on display at numerous Atomic snowboard demos as well as select Atomic dealers located in the Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah areas. Murphy will use the machine in Utah for filming and photoshoots.