Citing "very strong circumstantial evidence," judge sets suspected hit-run driver's bond at $1 million
BMW parts left at the scene of a fatal hit and run, cell phone records placing the suspected driver nearby and comments to the valet at his condo building that he "hit something" and "panicked," added up to $1 million bond Tuesday for Scott L. Roman.
Roman, 47, is the suspected driver of a white BMW that fled after hitting Joseph Deverson, 22, as he rode a motorized scooter on Powerline Road in Oakland Park nearly four months ago.
Roman was arrested Monday at the $880,000 ocean-front Fort Lauderdale condo he owns with his partner. He is being held in the Broward Main Jail on charges of failure to remain at the scene of a fatal accident and tampering with evidence.
In setting Roman's bond at a steep $1 million, Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley noted that the well-traveled, wealthy Realtor/broker could pose a flight risk in a case with "very strong circumstantial evidence."
"If he's willing to leave someone on the side of the road for dead, the court doesn't think it's that much of a leap in logic that if he's willing to do that he'd be willing to leave the country and flee from justice," Hurley said.
Hurley also ordered house arrest with an electronic monitor once Roman posts bond. He also must surrender his passport and was forbidden from driving or drinking alcohol.
"I think the state rushed to make an arrest here without any direct evidence that he was the driver," Roman's lawyer, William Ryan Moore, told the judge. "There's no direct evidence, it's all circumstantial and Mr. Roman had given a reasonable hypothesis of innocence to Detective De Jesus within hours of the incident."
It was an employee at Roman's condo, The Palms, 2100 N. Ocean Blvd., who led investigators to the damaged, white BMW-6 series after Roman asked him on the night of the crash to wash the vehicle and arrange to have it repaired. Detectives spoke with Roman the next morning.
"His claim to me when I spoke to him was that he had gone to a bar, he had gotten plastered and upon leaving he handed his keys to a perfect stranger and asked that individual to drive him home," Detective Carlos De Jesus told the judge. "His claim was that he was passed out … He was asleep in the car and he had no idea what had happened.
"He cannot provide any information whatsoever to identify this person, absolutely nothing."
Surveillance video from his condo shows Roman leaving and returning alone in his BMW. There was no damage when he left but there was when he returned, De Jesus said.
Cellphone records further show that Roman made a call minutes before the crash and received a call moments later and that he was in the vicinity of the crash when it happened, De Jesus said.
Especially persuasive, Hurley said, was Roman's purported comments to the valet at his condo.
"What the court believes is very significant today is the valet. The valet said that your client, Mr. Roman, said 'I hit something, I panicked,'' Hurley said.
About a dozen relatives and friends of Joseph Deverson, including his stepmother, Dawn Deverson, attended Roman's court hearing.
"There's too many hit and runs and this time it was a 22-year-old boy who was left to die," she said outside the courtroom, choking back tears. "[Roman] deserves the [$1 million] bond that he got, and I hope that he just feels some pain now, pain that he's inflicted on us."
According to his website, scottroman.com, Roman is a "professional waterfront Realtor" who specializes in properties in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Miami.
"Whether you are selling your home or purchasing a new home, your experience with Scott Roman will be nothing short of World Class," the website says.
Update: Bond Set At $1M For Man Accused In Fatal Oakland Park Hit-Run
Nearly 4 Months After Fatal Hit-Run Crash, Driver of Damaged BMW Arrested