The luckiest guys in Las Vegas this week were four O.J. Simpson accomplices who walked out of court with probation while the former football star sits in prison for his role in an armed confrontation over memorabilia from his past exploits.
Sentencing of the man who wielded a gun during the robbery sparked a courtroom outburst Tuesday from one victim of the hotel room heist who said Michael McClinton should have been sent to prison.
"I'm just very disappointed," said Bruce Fromong, one of the two sports memorabilia dealers robbed by Simpson and the other men. "I agreed completely with probation for the two guys who were just there backing up O.J. But McClinton stood a couple of feet from me with a gun in my face and said, `I'll shoot your (expletive).'"
"Use a gun, go to jail. That's my theory," Fromong said.
The collectibles dealer was ejected from the courthouse during sentencing of four of the men who joined Simpson on Sept. 13, 2007, at a casino hotel room where he confronted Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, who were peddling mementoes of Simpson's career.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Fromong exclaimed after Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass sentenced McClinton to eight years' probation. She suspended a prison term of two to seven years.
The judge told McClinton: "You were the one that had a gun. You were the one that brandished a weapon." But Glass said she considered McClinton's cooperation in testifying and the fact that he had no criminal record in granting him probation.
All three spoke of being lured into the plan by Simpson, who asked for help in retrieving his personal items.
"On that day, everybody was a snake. O.J. Simpson was the snake charmer," said Robert Dennis Rentzer, Alexander's attorney. "The man has charisma. There is something about him that captures individuals and draws them into his circle."
The sentencing was not the end of the seamy saga.
The judge scheduled a Dec. 19 hearing to discuss restitution for articles taken from the hotel room. Fromong has claimed he lost about $150,000 worth of memorabilia, while others have called that figure inflated. Simpson has said the items in the room were stolen from him.
Glass acknowledged the issue is complicated and will require testimony.
Simpson, whose presence dominated the hearing, was 45 miles away in prison, but his lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, attended the sentencing and said his client "has no hard feelings" against the former co-defendants who took deals and testified against him and Clarence "C.J." Stewart.
"You recall the jurors said they disregarded what these guys said on the stand," Grasso said. Jurors said they instead relied on secret recordings of the events and hotel surveillance video.
Attorney Brent Bryson, who represents Stewart, said: "I think he'll be happy for those defendants that they didn't get time. I'm sure he wishes he had been able to negotiate a satisfactory deal for himself early on."
Stewart was the only co-defendant to stand trial with Simpson. He received 7 1/2 to 27 years in prison. Simpson was sentenced to a minimum of nine years and maximum of 33 years.
Simpson's lawyers have said they will launch a vigorous appeal on his behalf and expect to file their notice before Christmas.
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