Published September 16, 2007
LAS VEGAS – O.J. Simpson was arrested Sunday and held without bail on charges related to the armed robbery of sports memorabilia in a Las Vegas hotel room, Las Vegas police said Sunday.
Prosecutors were planning to charge Simpson with two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and coercion, said Clark County District Attorney David Roger.
A conviction on the most serious charge, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, could bring a sentence of three to 35 years for each count, he said.
"He is facing a lot of time," Roger said.
Simpson was transferred to a detention center for booking Sunday evening, said Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Capt. James Dillon.
"He was very cooperative, there were no issues," Dillon said.
A judge ordered Simpson to be held without bail, police said Sunday evening.
At least one other person has been arrested and police said Sunday that as many as six people could be arrested in connection with the alleged armed robbery that occurred in a room inside the Palace Station casino-hotel on Thursday.
Lead investigator Lt. Clint Nichols said Sunday that Simpson, 60, had played a "substantial role" in the incident and that in earlier interviews with the police, Simpson had provided information that "changed the course of the investigation."
Nichols said Simpson was taken into custody at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas hotel where he was staying without incident. Several police officers were seen entering the hotel; a security guard said police took Simpson out a side door shortly after.
Earlier Sunday, Las Vegas police seized two firearms and arrested another man allegedly involved in the robbery, authorities said Sunday.
The man, identified by Las Vegas police as Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., was arrested Saturday night and charged with 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.
Lt. Nichols said Sunday that the two guns seized were not registered to Simpson or Alexander and were not in either man's posession when they were seized. The owner of the guns has not been identified. Nichols said police were "moving in the direction" of arresting the owner of the guns, who was currently out of town.
Simpson and Alexander are accused of being among a group of people that went to the room of memorabilia dealers at the Palace Station casino-hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday and seized items. Simpson has said the items belonged to him and that no robbery took place.
On Saturday, the memorabilia dealer who notified police of the incident, Alfred Beardsley, of Burbank, Calif., indicated that he was not interested in pursuing the case.
"I have no desire to fly back and forth to Las Vegas to prosecute this," he told The Associated Press. "How are they going to have a witness who's on O.J.'s side?"
Beardsley said he called police only because the items were valuable and if he had not reported them as stolen he would be "held accountable for all the stuff."
Simspon's arrest comes in the midst of controversy surrounding the publication of the book ""If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer," in which Simpson hypothetically describes how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.
On Sunday, Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, told Fox News that he hoped these new charges would result in a lengthy prison term for Simpson.
"I hope he goes away forever," Goldman said. "I hope he goes to prison for a very long time, where he belongs," he said.
Goldman said Simpson had a "monstrous personality" who "believes he is above the law."
"I'd like to be there when they find him guilty," Goldman said.
Police are still sorting out the details of the alleged robbery. That will include unraveling the contorted relationships between the erstwhile athlete and a cadre of collectors that has profited from his infamy since he was found liable in the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman.
At least one of the men considered Simpson a close friend. One had been his licensing agent. Another had collected Simpson items for years.
But times have changed.
In a Saturday phone interview with AP, Simpson declared: "None of these guys are friends of mine."
Beardsley was once a Simpson defender and ally but had recently appeared "sympathetic" with the families of people Simpson was accused of killing, an attorney for the family of Ron Goldman said.
Another sports collector, Bruce Fromong, once testified for the defense in the civil trial brought by the families of Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. Now Fromong says Simpson robbed him, along with Beardsley, at gunpoint in the room at the Palace Station casino.
Simpson, 60, said he was just trying to retrieve memorabilia, particularly photos of his wife and children. There were no guns, he told The Associated Press. There was no break-in, he said.
The man Simpson accused of stealing the items from him is Mike Gilbert, another one-time associate. As Simpson's licensing agent in the late 1990s, Gilbert admitted snatching Simpson's Heisman Trophy and other items from his client's Brentwood home as payment for money he said was owed to him. He later turned the items over to authorities, save the trophy's nameplate.
Gilbert swore he'd go to jail before turning the nameplate over to the Goldman family, which was trying to collect on the $33.5 million civil judgment won against Simpson. Gilbert later surrendered it under court order.
He apparently remained tight with his client through the ordeal.
"It has absolutely not affected our relationship at all," Gilbert said in October 1997.
Since then, according to Simpson, their relationship has changed. Simpson told AP he believes Gilbert stole items from a storage locker once held in Simpson's mother's name.
Attempts to reach Gilbert by phone were unsuccessful.
Simpson, who lives in Miami, said he expected to find the stolen items when he went to an arranged meeting Thursday.
The man who arranged the meeting, according to Simpson, was another man who makes a living on the fringes of the celebrity.
Thomas Riccio, a well-known memorabilia dealer, made headlines when his auction house, Corona, Calif.-based Universal Rarities, handled the eBay auction of Anna Nicole Smith's handwritten diaries.
Simpson said Riccio called him several weeks ago to inform him that people "have a lot of your stuff and they don't want anyone to know they are selling it," Simpson said.
Along with the personal photos, Simpson expected to find one item in particular: the suit he was wearing when he was acquitted of murder charges in 1995.
It's not clear where they got the suit, but Beardsley, a former real estate agent and longtime Simpson collector, and Fromong had been trying to sell it for several months. They'd recently tried eBay and the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com.
Goldman family attorney David Cook said Beardsley called him several times with the hopes of arranging a deal.
"When I spoke with him, my impression was that he was very sympathetic to the Goldmans," Cook said.
That's not the position Beardsley, who once tried to arrange lucrative autograph signings for Simpson, took in 1999, before a major auction of Simpson's sports collectibles, including his Heisman.
"It bothers me that I'm putting money in the Goldman and Brown pockets," Beardsley told the AP. "I believe he's not responsible for this crime, and I think there are a lot of people who believe that."
It was perhaps such statements that made it hard for Simpson to believe that Beardsley and Fromong were now attempting to profit off his personal items, which he says include the wedding video from Simpson's first marriage.
In an interview with TMZ.com, Beardsley noted that during the alleged robbery in the hotel room Simpson appeared surprised the pair were the ones selling the items.
"Simpson was saying that 'I liked you, I thought you were a good guy,"' Beardsley said.
Very quickly the relationship between the collectors and the celebrity were shifting once again. On Saturday, Beardsley said he had spoken with Simpson since the incident. He called to apologize, Beardsley said.
As questions swirled around the curious cast of characters and their tumultuous meeting, media scrutiny and public interest that has dogged the fallen athlete was in full swing.
By Saturday afternoon, Simpson's new book, "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer," was the top seller on Amazon.com.
None of the men will 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.