Former Co-Defendant Testifies Against O.J. Simpson, Says Vegas Plans Were Completely Legal

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A longtime friend and former co-defendant with O.J. Simpson agreed with a defense lawyer Tuesday that Simpson's meeting with two memorabilia dealers a year ago was supposed to be completely legal.

"Nothing illegal was going to occur, correct?" defense lawyer Yale Galanter asked former Simpson buddy Charles Ehrlich in his second day on the stand.

"Correct," Ehrlich answered.

"This was nothing but a recovery of stolen property, correct?" Galanter continued.

"Correct," Ehrlich replied again.

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Ehrlich, 54, of Miami, testified Monday that he saw two people with guns during the alleged armed robbery and kidnapping at the Palace Station casino hotel a year ago.

One wielded a black gun, Ehrlich testified under questioning from Clark County District Attorney David Roger.

"It was being waved around," Ehrlich said.

Simpson and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart have pleaded not guilty to 12 charges including armed robbery, coercion, assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping stemming from the September 2007 confrontation. They face prison if convicted.

Simpson contends he was meeting with memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley only to recover items that were rightfully his. Five men came to the meeting with Simpson, but he has said he didn't ask anyone to bring guns to the meeting and that he didn't know anyone in the room was armed.

Ehrlich faced the same charges as Simpson and Stewart until he pleaded guilty Aug. 4 to reduced charges — attempted accessory to robbery and attempted burglary — and agreed to testify for the prosecution. Ehrlich faces a possible sentence ranging from probation to five years in prison.

In his testimony Monday, Ehrlich said he remembered someone shouting "put the gun away" or "put the gun down," and thought it was Simpson.

Jurors have been told the gun was wielded by Michael McClinton, who like Ehrlich and two other former co-defendants took a plea deal in the case.

That would support testimony last week from Fromong, who testified last week he remembered Simpson waving his arm up and down while someone said to put the gun away.

But another man in the room, Thomas Riccio, the collectibles broker who arranged the meeting, has testified that he didn't hear anyone utter those words.

On Monday, Ehrlich also told a story previously unheard in the case, saying that after the incident, a depressed Simpson told him: "I'm gonna need a bail bondsman."

"I said, 'O.J., these guys had guns.' He said, 'There were no guns.' He sat down and started mumbling to himself: 'Why did I tell those two guys to come along?"'

Ehrlich had traveled with Simpson from Florida to Las Vegas for the wedding of a mutual friend. He said he reluctantly agreed to pose as a buyer of Simpson memorabilia in a hotel room "sting" arranged by Simpson and Riccio.

Riccio finished three days of testimony Monday. He agreed that Simpson had said that he only wanted to recover personal family items allegedly were stolen from him, and he was unaware of any weapons in the room.

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