Simpson arrested in Vegas robbery
EmptyLAS VEGAS -- Twelve years after being acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, O.J. Simpson again faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison after being arrested Sunday for allegedly robbing sports memorabilia collectors with the help of armed accomplices.
The Hall of Fame running back was arrested at his Las Vegas hotel room by plainclothes officers a day after the arrest of a golfing buddy who police say accompanied him with a gun in the Thursday night holdup.
Police said four more face arrest.
Simpson was to be booked Sunday afternoon on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm, police said.
Simpson, in handcuffs and wearing a golf shirt and blue jeans, was placed in an SUV in a convoy of police vehicles that headed to the Clark County detention center for booking.
The district attorney, meanwhile, said he expected Simpson to ultimately be charged with seven felonies and one gross misdemeanor based on police evidence.
Police did not allege that Simpson personally carried a weapon in the incident.
"We don't have any information to lead us to believe he was armed even based on those charges," said police Lt. Clint Nichols.
If convicted of the booking charges, Simpson, 60, would face up to 30 years in state prison on each robbery count alone.
The former football star was acquitted of the 1994 killings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, but another jury later found him liable in wrongful death civil lawsuit.
Goldman's father, Ron Goldman, welcomed the prospect of Simpson going to prison after all.
"He's believed for years, decades, that he's entitled to do anything he wants, and the legal system and society has basically agreed with him," Goldman told The Associated Press. "This time, hopefully, he'll get what he deserves. He'll get jail time."
Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, did not immediately return calls for comment after the arrest.
District Attorney David Roger said that when the case was filed he expected to charge Simpson with two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary with use of a deadly weapon, coercion with a deadly weapon, and a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit a crime.
The Heisman Trophy winner has told The Associated Press that there were no guns involved and that he went to the room at the Palace Station casino to retrieve stolen mementos that included his Hall of Fame certificate and a picture of the former running back with the late FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover.
But police said they seized two firearms involved in the robbery along with sports memorabilia, mostly signed by Simpson, but also collectible baseballs and Joe Montana cleats, at private residences early Sunday on three search warrants.
"It was evidence of a crime that was committed," Nichols said. "And I believe we recovered some clothing that the individual was wearing in the commission of the robbery."
"Whether the property belonged to Mr. Simpson is a matter of debate," Nichols said.
The main prosecutor in Simpson's criminal trial in 1995, Marcia Clark, said a key piece of evidence against Simpson may be the statement that he planned the hotel room raid.
"O.J. admitted it was his idea to go in and get this property," Clark said in a comment forwarded by "Entertainment Tonight," for which she is a legal analyst. "There is part of the law called principal armed: If one person has a gun, you all have a gun."
"The fact that the police seized two firearms, it makes it more difficult to believe he didn't know," she said.
Simpson said he never thought of calling police to reclaim what he says are stolen goods about to be fenced.
"The police, since my trouble, have not worked out for me," he said, noting that whenever he has called the police, "It just becomes a story about O.J."
The arrest was not the first time Simpson has had legal troubles since his acquittal in the "Trial of the Century."
He was cleared of charges in 2001 Florida road-rage incident, and in January 2003, his teenage daughter Sydney Simpson made an emotional 911 call to police after an argument with her father over family issues, but no charges were filed. A neighbor who went to Simpson's suburban Miami home on July 4, 2005, also called police to report a fight, but again no charges were filed.
Police said Sunday that Simpson asked to speak with his lawyer before proceeding with an interview, although he spoke several times with investigators before his arrest.
"He came along peacefully," Nichols said. "We haven't had any issues with him whatsoever."
Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., was arrested Saturday night on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary with a deadly weapon.
He was described as one of Simpson's golfing buddies who went with him to the scene of the robbery.
"Walter was one of the two subjects who had a gun," Capt. James Dillon said.
Police are seeking four men, including three they identified by name but not by age or hometown: Clarence Stewart, Michael McClinton, Tom Scotty and another white male adult who was not identified.
Alexander was released without bail Saturday night.
Robert Dennis Rentzer, a Los Angeles lawyer representing Alexander, said he was able to arrange his client's release from custody, but wasn't familiar with the allegations.
"I don't even know what they filed against him," said Rentzer, who said his client was arrested at the Las Vegas airport on the way to meet Rentzer.
Simpson said auction house owner Tom Riccio called him several weeks ago to say some collectors were selling some of his items. Riccio set up a meeting with collectors under the guise that he had a private collector interested in buying Simpson's items.
Simpson said he was accompanied by several men he met at a wedding cocktail party, and they took the collectibles.
Alfred Beardsley, one of the sports memorabilia collectors who was in the hotel room, has said he wants the case dropped and that he's "on O.J.'s side." The other alleged victim, sports collector Bruce Fromong, had not indicated that he wants to drop the complaint.
Simpson's new book, "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer," was the top seller on Amazon.com on Saturday.
But the former actor and Hertz pitchman will not profit from the book's sales. After a deal for Simpson to publish it fell through, a federal bankruptcy judge awarded the book's rights to the Goldman family.
Goldman said Sunday that the renewed publicity about Simpson would not erase the debt from his civil trial, for which Goldman is entitled to approximately $40 million, and which grows about $4 million a year in interest.
"He's not getting out of debt because of this book," Goldman said.