LAS VEGAS – O.J. Simpson said he doesn't understand why he is under investigation in an alleged armed robbery at a casino hotel room involving his sports memorabilia.
The former football star told The Associated Press on Friday that he went to the room to recover items stolen from him and that, despite reports, no guns were involved.
"There was no armed robbery here," Simpson said in a telephone interview. "It wasn't a robbery. They said 'Take your stuff and go."'
The incident at the Palace Station casino has once again focused attention on Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman more than a decade ago. He was later found civilly liable for their deaths and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment.
On Thursday night, officers responded to a call from the hotel made by Alfred Beardsley, one of the men in the hotel room and a longtime collector of Simpson memorabilia. Police Capt. James Dillon said the caller told police that O.J. Simpson was involved in the robbery.
"We have (reports) from the victim that there were weapons involved," Dillon said, but added that no firearms had been recovered, no charges had been filed and no one was in custody.
Police contacted Simpson, who would not give authorities the names of the "three or four" men who accompanied him into the hotel room until his lawyer was present, Dillon said.
Authorities were trying to sort out who owned the items in dispute and had some "legitimate information that part or all of the items" belong to Simpson, Dillon said.
Simpson said he and Beardsley had a friendly phone conversation later Friday and they wanted to resolve the matter. Both indicated the underlying issue was recovery of photos from Simpson's childhood.
"Nobody was roughed up," Simpson said in the interview. "What I can't understand is these guys are in a room trying to fence stolen goods and I'm the story."
Simpson was a Heisman Trophy winner in college and a star running back in the NFL. Many of his sports collectibles, including his Heisman, were seized under court order and auctioned to pay some of the $33.5 million awarded to the Goldman family and the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson.
Now a Miami resident, O.J. Simpson lives off a sizable pension that could not be seized under the civil judgment. But last year, during a scandal over payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars for his participation in a book about the murders, he said he needed the money to get out of debt and to "secure my homestead."
Simpson said he was conducting a sting operation on Thursday to collect his belongings when he was led to the room.
"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 it was auction house owner Tom Riccio who tipped him off and arranged for him to meet with collectors trying to peddle his belongings. Beardsley, however, said Riccio found out that he was going to be involved in a private sale of the childhood photos "and got Simpson all worked up."
"I will give him those pictures back, I feel bad about it," said Beardsley, adding that he and Simpson "feel this has gotten way out of control."
Riccio, meanwhile, told the Los Angeles Times that Simpson was supposed to show up and tell the men to give the belongings back or he would call the police. Instead, Simpson showed up with about seven "intimidating looking guys," at least one of whom had a gun, he said.
"We tried to peacefully reacquire these personal items, not for their monetary value, but for their family value. O.J. wanted to be able to pass these things down to his kids," Riccio told the newspaper.
"They (Simpson and his companions) took the stuff, and they left. What can I say? Things went haywire," he said.