County, CA – Brad
Scott is presently filing a motion for Post Conviction Relief, asking
the court to re-open his case based on new
evidence. Brad was previously sentenced to seven years in prison for
a conviction of BUI (boating under the influence) with a GBI (great
bodily injury) enhancement, on December 8, 2011.
On July 18, 2009,
friends Brad Scott and Rel Vrooman were attending a weekend function
Landing on Catalina Island, CA. The two
friends of roughly twenty-five years were traveling back from Avalon
towards Whites Landing when their small, motor powered inflatable tender
(dinghy) suddenly struck another boat, which was reportedly anchored
in an area that was, "outside the typical moorage & anchorage
area." Both men sustained serious injuries, requiring medical
evacuation by helicopter to Harbor UCLA Hospital. Both men had been
It was after midnight, and the two unconscious, injured friends left
initial responders puzzled about what actually happened as they began
to receive medical attention. Brad was the first to regain consciousness.
Still dazed from the accident, Brad awoke in the hospital to learn
that Rel was in an induced coma, and had sustained severe brain trauma
among several other injuries. Brad was diagnosed with a concussion,
whiplash, and released later that day.
Concerned for Rel,
Brad began seeking helpful information. Brad knew that Rel was the
operator at the time of the accident, and feared
if Rel awoke, he may say something without proper legal guidance. At
the advice of a friend who was retired law enforcement, Brad and others
were urged to tell Rel's family, "When Rel wakes up, if he doesn’t
know who was driving, don’t say anything to anyone." After
the statement was made to Rel's family, concerns over who was operating
the boat began to surface. Not knowing Brad very well, some family
members grew skeptical of Brad's intent. Causing more concern was the
fact that Brad owned the boat involved in the accident. At the advice
of a family friend, Rel's family retained the prominent Southern California
Law Firm, Aitken, Aitken and Cohn.
After being placed in a medically induced Coma for 10-days, and one
and a half months in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) after the accident,
Rel regained consciousness. Although he was alive, his memory loss,
and near complete loss of vision left a question mark as to how speedy,
if at all, his recovery would be.
For the next eight
months, neither Brad nor Rel were charged with any crime. Several
agree the evidence did not show Brad was
the operator, and without Brad stating that Rel was the driver, charges
remained unfiled. According to witness statements, pressure was reportedly
mounting against the Sheriff’s Dept. and District Attorney's
office from Aitken and Aitken and their Private Investigator to file
charges. Pressure, coupled with faulty evidence, led to Brad's arrest
and charges on March 6, 2010.
At the advice of Brad's former corporate attorney, Larry Rubaum, Brad
hired attorney Howard E Lowe. Brad remained confident that the evidence
would clearly show his innocence.
The first person
to see Brad and Rel in the dingy after the accident was Marissa Brown,
of the sailboat “Black Dahlia.” Marissa
and her husband David Brown were on their boat as the inflatable dinghy
hit it, around 1:15 a.m. After speaking with investigators associated
with Aitken and Aitken, Marissa reportedly couldn't quite remember
where Brad or Rel were post accident, with certainty. Although, on
the morning after the accident, and during the preliminary hearings,
she reportedly knew exactly where each man was located, since she stated
she had jumped into her skiff (small boat) and piloted over to the
dingy to hold Rel’s head & arm out of the water as she towed
the dingy back to her sailboat. Her husband, David Brown, offered conflicting
information, almost a year and a half later that was never given to
authorities on the morning after the accident. His recollection of
where the men were lying after the accident conflicted with his wife's
initial statement taken shortly after the accident. Now, the "altered" recollection
of events made it more plausible that Brad was actually the driver.
Dinghy (small inflatable raft) involved in accident
The injuries sustained
during the accident were representative of Rel being behind the helm
column) of the boat, and Brad,
being a passenger next to him on the bench seat, to the left of the
helm. Rel had broken four of his ribs, and his collar bone which was
indicative of someone being behind the steering console and sustaining
that type of injury on impact. The evidence that Brad's defense obtained,
including accident reconstruction reports from the defense’s
expert as well as the insurance company’s independent expert
appeared to be sufficient enough to prompt prosecuting attorney David
Dixon to dismiss Brad's charges.
Shockingly, former Sheriff turned Prosecutor, David Dixon did not
(Former) Judge Joan Cassani
According to documents
obtained, crucial testimony for the Defense, from the bio-mechanical
accident reconstructionist was not
permitted at trial. One witness stated, "Judge Cassani sustained
the prosecutions objections, disallowing very important evidence for
Brad, intended to be presented to jurors." First, retired deputy
sheriff, Oliver Grani, was not allowed to tell the court that he had
instructed Brad and others to tell Rel, "that it would be best
if Rel doesn’t remember who was driving, not to say anything
at all." Second, a mutual friend who was with Brad and Rel during
the weekend of the accident would have testified that he was with Brad
and Rel, while Rel was operating the dingy, earlier that day. He would
have also stated that Rel, when operating the boat, "often stands
up" to see over the bow as speeds increase and lift the front-end
of the boat. Again, Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani didn't allow the jurors
to hear this evidence. This would normally alarm me, however, I found
while investigating this particular judge that she
had been admonished on three separate occasions by the California State Commission on Judicial
Performance, prior to Brad Scott’s trial. On one occasion she
ordered that a Shock Belt be placed on a defendant, and then she ordered
that the defendant be shocked for being disruptive.
According to witnesses,
other crucial evidence for the defense was not allowed during trial.
Possibly the most concerning testimony came
from Rel Vrooman himself, when he stated during trial that, “he
could not remember who was driving the boat.” Rel was in an induced
coma for 10 days, and ICU for a month and a half, after sustaining
memory loss. At trial, Rel Vrooman was clueless about who was driving
the boat. Rel was even chastised during court proceedings by Judge
Cassani, implying that he could remember who was driving, but wasn't
In a blink of an eye, Brad was convicted and sent to prison. After
reading all trial transcripts, etc., it was absolutely a foregone conclusion
that Judge Cassani and DA David Dixon, were going to see to it that
Mr. Scott would be found guilty!
After his conviction,
a friend of Brad's found the US~Observer and convinced us to look
his "false conviction."
During our investigation, we determined that the evidence was completely
contrary to Brad's guilt. After going through transcripts, police reports,
in-depth accident reconstruction reports and other evidence, we finally
traveled to Huntington Beach, CA., to meet with Rel Vrooman. He was
still suffering from his injuries sustained during the tragic accident
however, after speaking with Rel over a period of approximately one
year, Rel began to regain his vision out of his left eye, which was
a huge medical breakthrough. Next, he started regaining memory.
In an affidavit
obtained by the US~Observer, Rel stated that as time elapsed, "I
began to regain my memory and would experience glimpses of the accident." Time
continued to help Rel regain his memory and as of July 19, 2014,
Rel confirmed in a sworn affidavit that, "I
now clearly remember driving the boat when the accident occurred." During
many of our conversations with Mr. Vrooman we could visibly see him
struggling to remember. His memory, just as his vision was, without
Rel is concerned
that he was taken advantage of while he was incapacitated. He stated
he dealt with attorney Michael Penn of the Aitken and
Aitken firm, strictly by himself, even though he had a conservator
appointed at that time. Witnesses believe that Vrooman’s law
firm had a “close” or “influential” relationship
with the local courts and prosecutor, which heavily influenced Brad's
prosecution and subsequent conviction.
It is our hope
that Rel Vrooman finds an attorney to help him file a lawsuit against
attorneys who allegedly took advantage of him
while he was incapacitated. Despite the initial confusion, Rel's family
has been instrumental in helping Rel. Although Rel received $500,000.00
in an insurance settlement, his attorney's reportedly walked away with
more than $300,000.00 of that amount, all while Rel was "medically
oblivious" to what was happening.
Today, Rel wakes
up in a small trailer park with the sobering memory of his friend
convicted. Rel also deals with ongoing
medical issues and the thoughts of how “he was taken advantage
of by his attorneys.” Rel is pursuing his dream of becoming a
Spanish-speaking preacher in his community. His faith in God is something
he graciously shares with others.
Brad Scott has
been ordered to not have any contact or speak with Rel as part of
probation agreement, issued at his resentencing
in May of 2014. In all, Brad was incarcerated for almost one-and-a-half
years, and an additional fifteen-months of being in a lock-down program.
Today, Brad remains a convicted, "serious violent felon."
The Long Beach Superior Trial Court is expected to hear and rule on
the newly discovered evidence this summer.
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