Scott FREE

By Nick Budnick, Nigel Jaquiss | Willamette Week | October 30, 2002

On Monday, a remorseful Scott Thomason pleaded guilty to failing to perform the duties of a driver, a courtroom mea culpa that came after a well-publicized hit-and-run earlier this month. The light sentence of 18 months' probation came in part because of good--and expensive--lawyering, but also something money can't buy: luck.

His victim, 32-year-old David Elliott, turned out to be his best ally.

According to an Oct. 22 police report, a neighbor, Louise Fischer, told police that two days after the accident Elliott told her he had not been injured by Thomason, but said, "I'm going to take him for everything he's got." She said Elliott later told her he was getting a brand-new Chevy SUV, fully loaded.

Thomason's defense attorney, Stephen Houze, had an investigator videotape Elliott moving well, without any apparent injury.

By the time Elliott appeared before the grand jury, his civil attorney, Tom D'Amore, was with him. Thomason also had his own civil attorney, James Gidley, there. They reportedly already had a verbal agreement on a settlement of Elliott's claim.

Prosecutors didn't go easy on Thomason. Normally, a case with no injury would not even be investigated. This case, however, went to a senior prosecutor, Rod Underhill. In addition, a police investigator stopped at nearby bars to see whether Thomason had been drinking.

This is the second time Thomason has been fortunate enough to hit someone without causing an injury. Seven years ago, Thomason was involved in another minor collision. Officer Audie Rhodes, who contacted Thomason at his house shortly after that incident, reported "a very strong smell of alcoholic beverage" on the car dealer's breath.