RENO, Nev.—Scott Thorson, who came to fame following his relationship with Liberace, successfully avoided a 20-year prison sentence after a Reno, Nev., criminal district court placed him on five years probation and allowed him to continue “rehab” at Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch.
“I am proud to announce that Scott Thorson is now the official mascot and Madam of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch,” beamed Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof outside the courthouse with Thorson at his side moments after he was freed. “Scott has been through hell and back since being with Liberace, and this is the start of an exciting new chapter in his life. And I know I don’t have to worry about Scott chasing any of the girls around!”
The 54-year-old Thorson is the author of Behind The Candelabra: My Life With Liberace, which detailed his unique and controversial relationship with the entertainer. The book was recently made into a movie for HBO, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. The book and movie both documented his struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as his $113 palimony lawsuit against the pianist after the end of the six-year relationship.
His drug and alcohol problems continued after the relationship, most recently culminating in his arrest last February on charges of burglary and using a credit card without consent after police alleged he was using cards from a stolen wallet. He pleaded guilty on May 8 and was sentenced on Wednesday.
Washoe District Judge Patrick Flanagan sentenced Thorson to eight to 20 years for burglary and ID theft, but suspended the prison sentence and instead ordered probation. The judge also rejected prosecutors' request Thorson be ordered to inpatient drug treatment and instead sent him to the county's outpatient drug court program.
He will regularly be tested by the madam at the Bunny Ranch, which needs to prove to be a drug-free workplace in order to maintain its license from the state.
"I cannot think of any other business that has a more vested interest in making sure people are following the law. As a consequence, I would trust her drug testing over most others simply because it means so much and she is so experienced in sorting through the B.S. to get to the truth," Thorson’s attorney David Houston said.
Thorson was in the Reno jail since his arrest and was “adopted” by Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof. Hof put up the $15,000 to bail Thorson out, and then bankrolled a high-priced legal team to win his freedom.
“Scott was taken advantage of as a teenager by Liberace, and all of his problems can be traced back to that,” Hof said.
In fact it was the persistence of two of Hof’s employees that brought the brothel baron (running legal seven brothels throughout Nevada) to Thorson’s rescue. Bunny Ranch manager Madam Suzette, and working girl Krissy Summers watched the HBO film, decided they wanted to help Thorson out, and asked Hof to step in.
“He was abused at such a young age. He was victimized by Liberace It wasn’t fair,” Summers said. “I begged Dennis to do something for Scott, and I am so glad he did!”
Once bailed-out Thorson was immediately pampered by the dozens of prostitutes at the Bunny Ranch, as they treated him to a complete beauty-makeover including $1,200 worth of Botox injections and a personal trainer. The Bunny Ranch also arranged for Thorson to have regular drug counseling at a nearby clinic and obtain treatment by top specialists for colon cancer.
Thorson met the flamboyant Liberace for the first time in 1976 when he was only a 17-year-old foster child, and moved into the 57-year-old’s gaudy Las Vegas mansion a short time later. Smitten with the youth, Liberace immediately hired Thorson to be part of his Las Vegas stage act—-Thorson would drive one of Liberace’s Rolls Royces onstage—and lavished him with unlimited presents, travel and money. Liberace also paid for plastic surgery to make Thorson look more like the performer, operations which, according to Thorson, also led him to become addicted to a variety of pain-killing drugs. The pair reconciled shortly before Liberace’s death from an AIDS-related illness in 1987.
Thorson’s life took yet another bizarre turn years later in 1989 when he appeared as the star prosecution witness in the notorious quadruple Los Angeles drug-related murders known as the Wonderland killings. Thorson had witnessed the brutal beating of legendary porn star John Holmes—by thugs allegedly at the behest of powerful gangster/drug dealer Eddie Nash—which directly led to the grisly California slayings a few days later. Thorson was later placed in the federal witness protection program, and subsequently barely survived being shot five times when assassins broke into his hotel room in Jacksonville, Fla., in a narco-killer rubout attempt.
Thorson has been interviewed about his life by Larry King, Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, The View, Howard Stern, and numerous other media since his emergence from jail—and is reportedly in talks for a reality-TV show as well as a new tell-all book tentatively titled Beyond the Candelabra.
“I feel truly blessed to have met Dennis and the girls at the Bunny Ranch,” said a teary-eyed and obviously relieved Thorson after the court hearing. “I’ve been given a second chance that I am going to make the most of.”
“He can stay at the Bunny Ranch forever,” Hof said. “Scott is family now.”