Simpson arrested in Las Vegas robbery case
Former football star, actor faces multiple charges
WASHINGTON - Las Vegas police arrested O.J. Simpson yesterday and charged the former football star with six felony counts in connection with an alleged hotel room robbery, placing Simpson in his most serious legal jeopardy since his acquittal on double murder charges in 1995.
Simpson, 60, was arrested yesterday morning, three days after two sports memorabilia dealers told police that Simpson and five other men burst into their room at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino, several of them brandishing guns, and seized various mementos, including several items autographed by the NFL Hall of Famer.
Police charged Simpson with two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and one count each of conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm. He was booked last night in the Clark County Detention Center; a judge ordered him held without bail, police said.
At a news conference last night, police said there were no indications that Simpson was carrying a weapon during the alleged robbery, nor was there evidence of physical harm to anyone.
Simpson has repeatedly asserted his innocence in a series of interviews since Thursday, saying that no guns were involved and that he had conducted a "sting operation" to retrieve property that had been taken from him years earlier by a former sports agent.
"I'm O.J. Simpson. How am I going to think that I'm going to rob somebody and get away with it?" he told the Los Angeles Times in a story published yesterday. "You've got to understand, this ain't somebody going to steal somebody's drugs or something like that. This is somebody going to get his private [belongings] back. That's it. That's not robbery."
Simpson, who lives in South Florida, said he traveled to Las Vegas after an auction house owner, Thomas Riccio, told him that two collectors, Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, were there selling memorabilia belonging to him. Riccio met Simpson and several other men in the lobby of the hotel and escorted them to the room, according to Simpson's account.
Beardsley later told the celebrity news website TMZ.com that members of Simpson's party entered the room and inquired about buying the suit that Simpson wore on the day in October 1995 when a Los Angeles jury found him not guilty of the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. After Simpson entered the room, Beardsley said he was directed "at gunpoint" to pack up various items that Simpson said were his.
Among the items were Simpson's Hall of Fame certificate, a picture of the former University of Southern California and Buffalo Bills running back with former FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, family photos, and a pair of cleats used by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, police said. The dealers told police the items are worth about $75,000.
However, in an interview Saturday with the Associated Press, Beardsley - who has known Simpson for about 25 years - said he wants the case dropped and that he's "on O.J.'s side."
On Saturday, Las Vegas police arrested Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., for his alleged role in helping Simpson.
Police said they had recovered two handguns allegedly used in the incident, some of the alleged stolen property, and some of the clothing worn by the suspects.
Las Vegas police are seeking four other men, said Captain James Dillon, who heads the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's robbery and homicide bureau. Lieutenant Clint Nichols of the department described the men as having "a social relationship" with Simpson, but denied reports that they were off-duty police officers.
Simpson was arrested at his room at the Palms resort and led away in handcuffs. The arrest took place "without incident," said Dillon.
He told the Associated Press on Saturday that he did not call the police to help reclaim the items because he has found the police to be unhelpful ever since the slaying of his former wife and Goldman in June 1994.