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DWI chair goes for bargain $10,000

DULUTH -- The auction ended at 7:12 p.m. and $10,099.99 emerged as the winning bid for a motorized recliner.

Proctor Police Chief Walter Wobig had no quarrel with the price to be paid for a vehicle his department seized following the drunken driving conviction of its owner and operator, Dennis LeRoy Anderson.

"We've had this vehicle in holding since Aug. 31, 2008, and if you would have told me then that it would sell for more than $10,000, I would have said you were nuts," Wobig said.

Anderson, too, was pleasantly surprised by the response, saying: "I figured it was probably worth two or three grand at most."

This was the chair's second appearance on eBay. It was initially listed as a La-Z-Boy. But this false claim was flagged by the staid manufacturer of more pedestrian furniture. When informed of the improper label attached to the item, eBay pulled the chair from auction Monday. At that time, the top bid for the motorized recliner sat at more than $43,000.

"Maybe that's the power of the La-Z-Boy name," joked Wobig.

More likely, however: the story of Anderson's conviction and oddly directed ingenuity had begun to run the final leg of its course in the international news cycle.

"Never in my wildest dreams, did I think that every branch of media would pick up on this story," said Wobig. "I've received thousands of e-mails on this case and we've been contacted by press from Japan, France, Germany and the British Times. This morning, I was on KROQ radio in L.A."

Peter Passi is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. The News Tribune and the Bemidji Pioneer are owned by Forum Communications Co.