Simpson Named Suspect in Casino Break-in

By: AP
By: AP

LAS VEGAS - Investigators questioned O.J. Simpson and named him a suspect Friday in a confrontation at a casino hotel room involving sports memorabilia. The former football star said he went to the room to retrieve property that was stolen from him but denied breaking in.

Las Vegas Metro Police Capt. James Dillon said the confrontation was reported as an armed robbery.

"We have reported from the victim that there were weapons involved," Dillon said, but he added that no weapons had been recovered and stressed that the investigation was in its "infancy."

No charges had been filed and no one was in custody, he said.

Simpson was cooperating, Dillon said.

Simpson told the AP he was conducting a sting operation to collect his belongings at the Palace Station casino. He said no weapons were involved.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Investigators questioned O.J. Simpson and named him a suspect Friday in a confrontation at a casino hotel room involving sports memorabilia. The former football star said he went to the room to retrieve property that was stolen from him but denied breaking in.

Simpson said he was conducting a sting operation to collect his belongings at the Palace Station casino.

Simpson told The Associated Press auction house owner Tom Riccio called him several weeks ago to say some collectors "have a lot of your stuff and they don't want anyone to know they are selling it."

Simpson, who was in Las Vegas for a friend's 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 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."

"Everybody knows this is stolen stuff," Simpson said. "Not only wasn't there a break-in, but Riccio came to the lobby and escorted us up to the room. In any event, it's stolen stuff that's mine. Nobody was roughed up."

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 the running back with J. Edgar Hoover.

Simpson said he wasn't sure where the items were taken.

A message left for Riccio was not immediately returned.

The break-in was reported late Thursday night, police spokesman Jose Montoya said.

When officers talked to him, "Simpson made the comment that he believed the memorabilia was his," Montoya said. "We're getting conflicting stories from the two sides."

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 don't believe he's going anywhere," Montoya said.

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 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.

The Las Vegas district attorney's office will decide whether to pursue charges in the casino case, but had not received police paperwork by Friday morning, an office assistant said.

Simpson had been scheduled to give a deposition Friday in Miami in a bankruptcy case involving his eldest daughter. But it was rescheduled because Simpson had told attorneys that he would be out of town.

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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