O.J. Simpson named suspect in armed robbery, says he was trying to retrieve stolen property
LAS VEGAS (AP) O.J. Simpson says he went into a casino hotel room only to retrieve memorabilia that he felt was stolen from him. But police are investigating it as an armed robbery and named the fallen football star as a suspect Friday in yet another surprising chapter to his legal saga.In an interview with The Associated Press, Simpson insisted there were no guns involved and that he went to the room at the Palace Station casino only to get stolen mementos that included his Hall of Fame certificate and a picture of the running back with J. Edgar Hoover.Its stolen stuff thats mine. Nobody was roughed up, Simpson told the AP.Las Vegas Metro Police Capt. James Dillon said the confrontation was reported as an armed robbery involving guns. But he said no weapons had been recovered and stressed that the investigation was in its infancy.Simpson was questioned by police immediately after the incident Thursday night, and a formal interview was being arranged, Dillon said. No charges had been filed and no one was in custody.Simpson said auction house owner Tom Riccio called him several weeks ago to say some collectors have a lot of your stuff and they dont want anyone to know they are selling it.Simpson, who was in Las Vegas for a friends wedding, said he arranged to meet Riccio at the hotel. Riccio had set up a meeting with collectors under the guise that he had a private collector interested in buying Simpsons items.We walked into the room, Simpson said in the telephone interview. Im the last one to go in and when they see me, its all Oh God.Simpson said he was accompanied by several men he met at a wedding cocktail party, and they took the collectibles.Simpson said he wasnt sure where the items were taken.Dillon said some of the items had been recovered. He did not specify which collectibles were located.A message left for Riccio was not immediately returned.Police spokesman Jose Montoya said when officers talked to Simpson, he made the comment that he believed the memorabilia was his. Were getting conflicting stories from the two sides.One of the collectors in the room was Alfred Beardsley, a real estate agent and longtime collector of Simpson memorabilia, some of which he has been ordered to turn over as part of the Goldmans lawsuit.Im OK. Im shaken up, Beardsley told the AP by phone, but wouldnt comment further, citing the police investigation.Bruce Fromong, a collector who testified at Simpsons civil trial, said he was in the room when Simpson barged in with other men.Him and some of his guys come busting through the door, Fromong told the celebrity gossip site TMZ.com. They came in with guns, hollering and screaming.Fromong, who reportedly tried to sell the suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted of murder, described him as a former close friend and said he couldnt explain the behavior.O.J.s in enough trouble. For him to come and do this kind of thing, I dont know whats wrong with O.J. This is stupidity.Simpson is considered a suspect in the case, Montoya said. He was released after he and several associates were questioned, and he remained in Las Vegas.We dont believe hes going anywhere, Montoya said.The Las Vegas district attorneys office will decide whether to pursue charges in the casino case.The Heisman Trophy winner, ex-NFL star and actor lives near Miami and has been a tabloid staple since his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were killed in 1994. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, but a jury later held him liable for the killings in a wrongful death lawsuit.Simpson has had to auction off his sports collectibles, including his Heisman Trophy, to pay some of the $33.5 million judgment awarded in the civil trial.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 books rights to the Goldman family, who retitled it If I Did It: The Confessions of the Killer.Fred Goldman, Rons Goldmans father, said he was stunned by the news from Las Vegas.Im overwhelmed and amazed, Fred Goldman told the AP. 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.Goldmans lawyer, David Cook, said he would seek a court order on Tuesday to get whatever items Simpson took in Las Vegas.The Palace Station, an aging property just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of several Station Casinos-owned resorts that cater to locals. The 1,000-room hotel-casino, with a 21-story tower and adjacent buildings, opened in 1976.A company spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Tony Winton in Miami contributed to this report.
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