D.A. charges Simpson with kidnapping, assault


LAS VEGAS -- Prosecutors filed formal charges, including kidnapping, against O.J. Simpson on Tuesday in an alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia in a casino hotel room.

Simpson faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of the charges filed by Clark County District Attorney David Roger.

Roger added five charges, including two counts of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, each felonies, to the assault and robbery with a deadly weapon charges used to arrest the fallen football star on Sunday, according to documents released by Las Vegas Justice Court.

Simpson was charged along with three other men who police believe barged into a hotel room at the Palace Station casino and stole sports memorabilia from two collectors.

According to the complaint, the group went to Room 1203 under the pretext of brokering a deal with Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, two longtime collectors of Simpson memorabilia. Once in the room, Simpson prevented one of the collectors from calling 911 on his cell phone "by ripping it out of Bruce Fromong's hand" while one or more accomplices pointed or displayed a handgun, the document says.

The complaint does not specify which of the men involved was carrying the weapon.

The kidnapping charge accuses the men of detaining each of the men "against his will, and without his consent, for the purpose of committing a robbery."

Fromong, a crucial witness in the case, was in critical condition in a Los Angeles hospital on Tuesday, after suffering a heart attack.

Simpson sat in a Las Vegas jail awaiting a Wednesday arraignment on the charges, which include 10 felonies. Two others named in the complaint, Walter Alexander and Clarence Stewart, have been arrested and released.

Authorities were seeking an arrest warrant for a fourth man, Michael McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas, a man police describe as "a key player" in the alleged theft.

"We hope to have him in custody today," said Officer Ramon Denby, a police spokesman. "Hopefully, he'll be cooperative and surrender with his attorney."

Simpson, 60, has been in and out of the spotlight since he was acquitted in 1995 of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. He was found liable for the deaths in a civil trial and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment.

Earlier Tuesday, a California judge denied a request filed by Goldman's father to take Simpson's earnings from autograph signings, video games and other items to help satisfy the judgment.

Judge Gerald Rosenberg gave Fred Goldman's lawyer, David Cook, one week to deliver a list of sports memorabilia items the former football star was accused of stealing from the hotel room.

Some of the missing goods, including autographed footballs, were turned in Monday by Stewart, 53, of Las Vegas, before he was released on $78,000 bail.

Another man charged, Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., said he blames a memorabilia dealer who tipped Simpson off that some of his collectibles were being sold. Tom Riccio brought Simpson to the room and then recorded the confrontation that led to Simpson's arrest.

"It sounds like a setup to me," Alexander told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday.

Tom Riccio, a California auctioneer who Simpson said arranged the hotel room meeting, reportedly sold the audio to the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com. He said Tuesday that Simpson hatched the idea himself.

"O.J. came up with some way-out ideas before I finally agreed to the last one, which didn't go the way he said it would go. I didn't do anything wrong was the bottom line," Riccio told the Fox News Channel.

Another man, Tom Scotto, was questioned and cleared of suspicion after police concluded he was not in the room.

Yale Galanter, Simpson's lawyer, has said he is preparing a bond motion and will ask for Simpson's release on his own recognizance.

"If it was anyone other than O.J. Simpson, he would have been released by now," he said.

"You can't rob something that is yours," Galanter said. "O.J. said, 'You've got stolen property. Either you return it or I call the police."'

Witnesses and authorities have said that they don't believe Simpson had a gun but that some of the men who accompanied him during the confrontation were armed. Simpson has said he wasn't armed and that he went to the hotel simply to retrieve property that had been stolen from him.

Simpson and the three other suspects face multiple felonies, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery, two counts of kidnapping with use of the deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of the deadly weapon, two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon, and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. They are also charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, a gross misdemeanor. Simpson alone is charged with an additional felony, coercion with use of a deadly weapon.

The most serious of the charges, kidnapping, carries the maximum sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.

In court in Santa Monica, Goldman attorney Cook accused Simpson of "sitting on a treasure trove of sports memorabilia," while ignoring the multimillion-dollar judgment.

Cook argued Simpson was wealthy, citing a 2003 tax form indicating income of $400,000. He also said Simpson has four pensions -- three for his NFL, TV and movie work and a private stock account worth more than $2 million.

Slates scoffed, noting money from the pension funds are exempt from the judgment and Simpson has expenses for his three children.

"He has a right, like everybody else, to be protected (under the law)," Slates said.

He also said Simpson has repeatedly offered to settle the judgment with the Goldman family.

Cook replied it would be "a cold day in hell" when that would happen.

"It is inconceivable that the father of a murder victim would sit and haggle," Cook said.