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O.J. Simpson investigated in alleged robbery at Vegas hotel room

Kathleen Hennessey and Linda Deutsch
Associated Press Writers

LAS VEGAS (AP) ” O.J. Simpson was under investigation Friday in an alleged break-in and armed robbery at a casino hotel room that netted sports memorabilia, but the former football star said he went there to recover items stolen from him and there were no weapons involved.

“Nobody was roughed up,” Simpson told The Associated Press by phone. “What I can’t understand is these guys are in a room trying to fence stolen goods and I’m the story.”

The incident at the Palace Station casino once again hurled Simpson into the headlines more than a decade after he was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in the “Trial of the Century,” only to be found civilly liable for their deaths and ordered to pay a $33.5 million judgment.



Police Capt. James Dillon stressed that the investigation was in its “infancy” and that “few facts” had been determined. Officers responded to a call from the hotel just before 8 p.m. Thursday, he said.

“The victim stated that one of the suspects involved in the robbery was O.J. Simpson,” Dillon said.



“We have reported from the victim that there were weapons involved,” he said, but he added that no firearms had been recovered, no charges had been filed and no one was in custody.

A formal interview of Simpson was being arranged Friday, Dillon said.

“We did make early contact at the beginning of the investigation with Mr. Simpson and Mr. Simpson is cooperating with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during this investigation,” he said.

Dillon said investigators had video surveillance tapes and still images from various locations at the hotel but he did not say what they showed.

Simpson told the AP there was no armed robbery and no guns were involved.

One of the memorabilia collectors in the room was Alfred Beardsley, a real estate agent and longtime collector of Simpson memorabilia.

“I’m OK. I’m shaken up,” Beardsley told the AP by phone, but wouldn’t comment further, citing the police investigation.

Simpson was a Heisman Trophy winner in college and a star running back in the NFL. Many of his sports collectibles, including his Heisman Trophy, 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 that on Thursday he was conducting a sting operation to collect his belongings when he was led to the room at the casino.

He 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 said he was in Las Vegas for a friend’s wedding and 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 him J. Edgar Hoover.

Simpson said he wasn’t sure where the items were taken. Dillon said some of the items had been recovered but did not specify which ones.

Bruce Fromong, a sports memorabilia collector who testified at Simpson’s civil trial, said he witnessed the incident and that Simpson broke into the hotel room and took several collectibles.

“It was home invasion-type thing,” he told the Web siteTMZ.com. “Guys come busting through the door at the Palace casino, I mean, literally busting through it. He and some of his guys came in with the guns, hollering and screaming.”

Fromong, who reportedly tried to sell the suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted of murder, described him as at one time being a close friend.

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.

___

AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch and Associated Press Writer Jeff Wilson contributed to this report from Los Angeles.


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