One of the victims in an O.J. Simpson-led robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room was ordered by a judge Friday to turn over the ex-NFL star's Pro Football Hall of Fame ring, even though a lawyer for the memorabilia dealer claims he doesn't have it.
During the hearing, an investigator from the Las Vegas district attorney's office suggested the dealer, Alfred Beardsley, had received the ring from Simpson in exchange for changing his testimony during the robbery case.
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Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg ordered Beardsley to produce the ring by next Friday.
Beardsley took the witness stand and invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination 15 times as he was questioned by a lawyer for Fred Goldman, who is seeking Simpson's assets in payment of a $33.5 million civil liability judgment.
Goldman is the father of Ron Goldman, who was slain along with Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson in the notorious 1994 case. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges but later held liable in civil court in the wrongful death case.
Simpson is in a Nevada prison after being sentenced to nine to 33 years for the robbery-kidnapping in Las Vegas last year that centered on his efforts to retrieve memorabilia from his storied sports career.
Bill Falkner, an investigator for the Las Vegas district attorney and the only other witness called at Friday's hearing, said he had transported Beardsley several times from California, where he was in jail on a probation violation, to Las Vegas to testify in the robbery-kidnap case.
During the final trip back to California, Falkner testified that Beardsley told him "the only thing he received for this trouble in the case was Mr. Simpson's Hall of Fame ring. It was given to him. He was upset the case caused him some period of incarceration."
Beardsley's attorney Jack Swickard said he had advised his client to invoke the Fifth Amendment because he had heard rumors of a grand jury investigation under way in Las Vegas into possible witness tampering by Simpson.
He asked Falkner whether there had been "bad blood" between the investigator and Beardsley.
"I have no issues with Mr. Beardsley," Falkner testified.
However, Falkner acknowledged he was unhappy with Beardsley's contradictory testimony at the preliminary hearing and trial in the robbery-kidnap case.
Falkner said Beardsley initially testified that tape recordings of the incident at the hotel were accurate, then changed his story and said the tapes had been altered.
"When you asked Mr. Beardsley what did you get in exchange for your testimony, what did Mr. Beardsley say?" Swickard asked.
"Hall of Fame ring," Falkner said.
He said Beardsley had estimated the value of the ring at $200,000.
"He said it was a very nice ring, and he planned to wear it to Mr. Simpson's sentencing," the investigator said.
Beardsley did not attend the sentencing, and Falkner said he never saw the ring.
Falkner also said he knew of phone calls between Simpson and Beardsley after the hotel room incident. He testified that Beardsley told him, "I talked to O.J., and it's all cool."
Outside court, Swickard said Beardsley doesn't have the ring, and "we can't turn over what the doesn't have."
Attorney David Cook, who represents Fred Goldman, said he didn't know if he would succeed in getting the ring.
"Maybe Mr. Beardsley is a colorful guy who likes to make up stories," he said. "But I'm not going to pass up this opportunity."
Cook said he wasn't sure if Goldman would end his quest for Simpson's assets now that he was in prison.
"This might be the end because Simpson will be making 83 cents a day," Cook said. "This is Mr. Goldman's quest. So for Mr. Goldman, it never ends."