Forfeiture Victim Stories

Trails End: A Memorial to Donald Scott

On October 2, 1992 Malibu California millionaire Donald Scott was shot to death inside his own home, during a raid by Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and agents from five federal law enforcement agencies. The Scotts were awakened by the sound of the police breaking down their door. Scott's wife, Frances, ran downstairs to find her house swarming with men with guns aimed at her. She screamed "don't shoot me, don't kill me." Donald Scott, recovering from recent cataract surgery, got his gun and ran to the defense of his wife. When he emerged at the top of the stairs, holding his gun over his head, the officers told him to lower the gun. As he did, they shot him to death. The warrant was for evidence of the cultivation of marijuana, but no illegal activity was discovered at the Scott ranch. The report of the Ventura County District Attorney, Michael Bradbury, concluded that the police lied to obtain the search warrant, that there had never been any marijuana cultivation on the property, and that the raid was motivated by a desire to forfeit the multi-million dollar ranch. Despite the DA's dramatic conclusions, no officer was ever indicted, or even lightly disciplined for the lies or the killing.

"Judge Says Ventura District Attorney Doesn't Have to Divulge Documents," summary of AP article, posted to FEAR-List by Brenda Grantland, 9/20/95

Report On The Death Of Donald Scott, by Ventura County (CA) District Attorney Michael D. Bradbury, March 30, 1993 (64 pp.)

  • "L.A. Forfeiture Squads Kill California Millionaire" by Brenda Grantland
  • List of "Persons Present When Warrant Executed" (2 pp.)
  • IMAGE: Police Diagram of the Scott house showing where Scott was killed, (4K B&W .gif)
  • Transcript of Tape From Scott's Answering Machine -- the Scott's answering machine tape recorded the officers' phone calls after the killing (2 pp.)
  • IMAGE: Map of Donald Scott property -- with handwritten notes made by police before the raid: "80 acres sold for $800,000 in 1991 in same area. 1. Fly. 2. Low crawl." (47K B&W .jpg)
  • IMAGE: Tax Assessor's appraisals of property in the area -- reviewed by police before the raid (21K B&W .gif)
  • "Forfeiture Motive Involved In The Trail's End Ranch Search Warrant", Memorandum from Deputy D.A. Kevin G. De Noce (two pages includes excellent summary of the conclusions of the report, plus the following excerpt:)
    "Additional evidence which was not included in our report but
    released to Los Angeles County Sheriff Block and select others as
    part of the investigation file supports the conclusion that
    forfeiture of the property was at least one of the motivating
    factors for obtaining the search warrant. On September 2, 1992,
    at a briefing conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs
    Department regarding the investigation of the Trail's End Ranch,
    officers present received documents which included a property
    appraisal statement of the Trail's End Ranch and a parcel map of
    the area. Both of these documents are attached. DEA Special
    Agent Charles A. Stowell, who made the aerial flyover, made a
    notation on the parcel map indicating that the property
    encompassed 200 acres and that 80 acres "in the area" had
    recently sold for $800,000.

    We can find no reason why law enforcement officers who were
    investigating suspected narcotics violations would have any
    interest in the value of the Trail's End Ranch or the value of
    property sold in the same area other than ff they had a motive to
    forfeit that property. ..."

  • Miscellaneous
    Here is Paul Ciotti's outstanding and informative article "Ranch-coveting officials settle for killing owner: Five police agencies staged bogus drug raid on rich eccentric to acquire 200-acre spread", written Jan. 23, 2000, that adds much more detail to this fascinating story of a government out of control.

    Please go to Frances Scott's Web Page where you can learn how you can of her continuing fight to save the property from confiscation. [Note, her page is now down -- this link is courtesy of the Internet Archive.]

      IMAGE: Frances Plante Scott, Donald's Scott's widow (12K color photo .gif) taken at F.E.A.R. sponsored memorial service for Donald Scott, grounds of Federal Building, Los Angeles, October 2, 1993 (Full size image not available)