Jury: Ex-convict gets 4 years in prison for ID theft

September 14, 2012 09:26 pm

GOLD BEACH – A 40-year-old ex-convict from California who led Brookings police on a chase at more than 100 mph north toward Whaleshead late July 24 was sentenced to more than four years in prison on Friday after being convicted of nine charges, including three of identity theft.

A jury convicted Keith Scott Hodges on Wednesday and he was sentenced Friday by Judge Jesse Margolis.

District Attorney Everett Dial said Brookings Officer Jaired Freeman saw a car making a turn without signaling about 11 p.m. July 24 and decided to follow it. The car then started making a number of turns without signaling.

 

“He turned on his lights to stop the car, when it took off on Highway 101, speeding over 100 mph,” Dial said. “At one point during the chase, he had his lights turned off, in an attempt to elude the officers.”

Freeman checked and found the car had been reported stolen out of California.

Other officers then joined the chase.

“When the car got to Martin Ranch Road, it slowed enough to make a turn, but not enough to prevent knocking down a row of newspaper boxes and mail boxes. It flattened a lot of boxes,” Dial said.

Dial said that at that point, a passenger rolled out of the car, onto the pavement. Freeman stopped to help the passenger, who turned out to be Hodges’ girlfriend, June Lawson, 32.

Freeman stopped to arrest her, then called an ambulance.

“Detective Tyler McCourt and other officers had joined the pursuit,” Dial said.

Freeman’s car was stopped, blocking the road, so McCourt got in Freeman’s patrol car to continue pursuit. But the chased car could not be found.

It was later found by officer Travis Wright, pushed off into a ditch further up the road, Dial said. “The defendant was found sometime later by a cleaning staff at Whaleshead Resort,” he said.

Hodges was inside a van owned by the resort and was barefoot.

Dial said he had used some towels in the van to fashion shoes.

“Police were called and Freeman responded and arrested the defendant,” Dial said.

“In the car were the defendant’s cell phone with text messages to and from him, birthday messages to him on his birthday,” Dial said.

Hodges’ boots were also found in the car.

“The car was full of stolen identity,” Dial said, including Social Security cards, licenses, passports, savings bonds.

A mother from California came to Gold Beach to testify. The identities included her Social Security card, passport and other items, including identities of her sons, 4- and 6-years-old.

There was also a box that had been delivered to a home in Crescent City and left on the porch before it was taken by Hodges.

Dial credited the investigation by Detective McCourt for the jury convicting Hodges on so many counts.

They included three counts of identity theft, attempting to elude police, possession of meth, two of theft, recklessly endangering another and reckless driving. 

For identity theft, Margolis sentenced Hodges to three consecutive prison terms of 18 months, each with one year of post-prison supervision. For the other counts, he was sentenced to a total of 270 days in jail, fines totaling $1,000 and a compensatory fine of $1,000 to be paid to Lawson.

Defense attorney Jim Gardner argued that the three prison sentences should been concurrent sentences, since the victims were from the same family – a mother and her two children.

But Dial argued they were three named victims so they should be three separate counts. The judge agreed.

At sentencing, Dial read a long list of convictions for Hodges over the years.

“Your criminal history is catching up to you,” Margolis said in sentencing Hodges. “You are still a relatively young man. You’re leading a life that will be unhappy for you if you don’t make changes. It’s not too late to change your life.”