Published September 14, 2007
LAS VEGAS – O.J. Simpson was under investigation Friday in an alleged armed robbery at a casino hotel room involving sports memorabilia, but the former football star denied breaking into the room or carrying a weapon.
Simpson told The Associated Press he went to the room to get memorabilia that was stolen from him.
The incident was reported as an "armed robbery" involving firearms, Las Vegas Metro Police Capt. James Dillon told a press conference.
"The victim stated that one of the suspects involved in the robbery was O.J. Simpson," he said.
"We have reported from the victim that there were weapons involved," Dillon said, but he added that no firearms had been recovered and he stressed that the investigation was in its "infancy."
No charges had been filed and no one was in custody, he said.
Dillon said it could take several days to gather relevant information, and he said preliminary information being released was "based on the few facts that we are aware of, or that we've determined to be at this time."
Simpson, who was questioned immediately after the incident, was cooperating, Dillon said. The captain said a formal interview was being arranged.
Simpson told the AP there was no armed robbery and no guns were involved.
Simpson said he was conducting a sting operation to collect his belongings when he was led to the room at the Palace Station casino. Police said he was a suspect in a break-in at the hotel.
"Everybody knows this is stolen stuff," Simpson said by phone while still in Las Vegas on Friday. "Nobody was roughed up."
The Heisman Trophy winner, ex-NFL star and actor lives near Miami and has been a tabloid staple since his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were killed in 1994. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, but a jury later held him liable for the killings in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Many of Simpson's sports collectibles, including his Heisman Trophy, were seized under court order and auctioned to pay some of the $33.5 million judgment awarded to the Goldman family and the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson.
O.J. Simpson said that auction house owner Tom Riccio called him several weeks ago to alert him that collectors were quietly trying to peddle his belongings.
Simpson, who was in Las Vegas for a friend's wedding, arranged to meet Riccio, who set up a meeting with collectors under the guise that he had a private collector interested in buying Simpson's items.
"We walked into the room," Simpson said. "I'm the last one to go in and when they see me, it's all 'Oh God."
Simpson said he was accompanied by several men he met at a wedding cocktail party and they took the collectibles, which included his Hall of Fame certificate and a picture of the running back with J. Edgar Hoover.
Simpson said he wasn't sure where the items were taken. Dillon said some of the items had been recovered. He did specify which items were located.
The break-in was reported late Thursday night, police spokesman Jose Montoya said.
"When they talked to him, Simpson made the comment that he believed the memorabilia was his," Montoya said. "We're getting conflicting stories from the two sides."
One of the collectors in the room was Alfred Beardsley, a real estate agent and longtime collector of Simpson memorabilia, some of which he has been ordered to turn over as part of the Goldman's lawsuit.
"I'm OK. I'm shaken up," Beardsley told The AP by phone, but wouldn't comment further, citing the police investigation.
Simpson was released after he and several associates were questioned, but he is considered a suspect in the case, Montoya said. He is believed to be in Las Vegas.
"We don't believe he's going anywhere," he said.
The district attorney's office will decide whether to pursue charges, but had not received police paperwork by Friday morning, an office assistant said.
On Thursday, the Goldman family published a book about the killings that Simpson had written under the title, "If I Did It," about how he would have committed the crime had he actually done it. After a deal for Simpson to publish it fell through, a federal bankruptcy judge awarded the book's rights to the Goldman family, who retitled it "If I Did It: The Confessions of a Killer."
Fred Goldman, Ron's Goldman's father, defended the family's decision to publish the book. He said he was stunned by the news from Las Vegas.
"I'm overwhelmed and amazed," Fred Goldman told The Associated Press. "If it turns out as it is currently being played, I think this shows more of who he is. He is proving over and over and over again that he thinks he can do anything and get away with it."
Goldman's lawyer, David Cook, said he would seek a court order on Tuesday to get whatever items Simpson took in Las Vegas.