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Prosecutors File Charges Against Simpson

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KATHLEEN HENNESSEY | September 18, 2007 11:51 PM EST | AP

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LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors filed formal charges Tuesday against O.J. Simpson, alleging the fallen football star committed 10 felonies, including kidnapping, in the armed robbery of sports memorabilia collectors in a casino-hotel room.

Simpson was arrested Sunday after a collector reported a group of armed men charged into his hotel room and took several items Simpson claimed belonged to him. Police reports obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press offered details on the scene.

Simpson, 60, was booked on five felony counts, including suspicion of assault and robbery with a deadly weapon. District Attorney David Roger filed those charges and added five other felonies, including kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, according to court documents.

Simpson, accused along with three other men, faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted in the robbery at the Palace Station casino. He was being held without bail and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

According to the charges, Simpson and the others went to the hotel room under the pretext of brokering a deal with Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, two longtime collectors of Simpson memorabilia.

According to police reports, Simpson and the other men entered the room and at gunpoint ordered the longtime collectors to hand over several items once owned by the Heisman Trophy winner. Beardsley told police that one of the men with Simpson brandished a semiautomatic pistol, frisked him and impersonated a police officer.

"I'm a cop and you're lucky this ain't LA or you'd be dead," the man said, according to the report. The man who arranged the meeting of the former athlete and the collectors, Tom Riccio, also told police a Simpson associate was "acting like a cop," the report said.

As his associates tried to seize cell phones, Simpson yelled and cursed the collectors, who Simpson has said were trying to sell items that had been stolen from him.

The kidnapping charges filed Tuesday accuse Simpson and three other men of detaining each of the collectors "against his will, and without his consent, for the purpose of committing a robbery."

The memorabilia taken from the room included football game balls signed by Simpson, Joe Montana lithographs, baseballs autographed by Pete Rose and Duke Snider and framed awards and plaques, together valued at as much as $100,000.

Some of the loot was stuffed into pillow cases stripped off the bed, according to the police report.

Fromong, a crucial witness, was in critical condition Tuesday after suffering a heart attack the day before, according to a spokeswoman at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, said he planned to ask for Simpson's release on his own recognizance.

"We intend to vigorously represent Mr. Simpson on all charges. We believe ultimately he will be found not guilty," Galanter said. He refused to comment further on the additional charges.

Two others named in the complaint, Walter Alexander and Clarence Stewart, have been arrested and released. A fourth suspect, Michael McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas, surrendered to police Tuesday. Police describe him as "a key player" in the suspected theft.

It wasn't immediately clear who McClinton's lawyer was Tuesday.

Police were also seeking two other suspects, whom they had not identified.

Stewart, 53, of Las Vegas turned in some of the missing goods Monday before he was released on $78,000 bail.

Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz., said Tuesday that Simpson may have been tricked because another memorabilia dealer who tipped him off also recorded everything on tape.

"It sounds like a setup to me," Alexander told ABC's "Good Morning America." He said Simpson had thought the memorabilia belonged to him after getting a call from the dealer, Tom Riccio.

Riccio, who reportedly sold the audio to the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com, said Tuesday that Simpson hatched the idea himself.

"O.J. came up with some way-out ideas before I finally agreed to the last one, which didn't go the way he said it would go. I didn't do anything wrong, was the bottom line," Riccio told Fox News Channel.

Simpson and the other three men are charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping; two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon; burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon; two counts of assault with a deadly weapon; conspiracy to commit kidnapping; conspiracy to commit robbery; and a misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

Simpson also faces one charge of coercion with use of a deadly weapon, a felony.

Simpson was acquitted more than a decade ago of the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman's son, Ron. He was later found liable in a wrongful-death trial.

The civil jury returned a $33.5 million judgment against Simpson, but it remains largely unpaid. The Goldman family has waged a campaign to claim Simpson's assets since then.

Earlier Tuesday in California, a judge gave Goldman's father, Fred, a week to come up with a list of sports memorabilia that Simpson is accused of stealing from the Vegas hotel room, but he refused to order Simpson to hand over his earnings from everything from autograph signings to video games.

In court in Santa Monica, David Cook, an attorney for Fred Goldman, accused Simpson of "sitting on a treasure trove of sports memorabilia" while ignoring the multimillion-dollar judgment. But both Cook and Simpson lawyer Ronald Slates said they had no idea what the items were, and Slates argued it was unclear whether Simpson really owned any of them.

Cook also filed a new request to get Simpson's watch, which he described as a Rolex Submariner that he saw the former football star wearing in a photo featured on the celebrity Web site TMZ.com. Such watches sell for $5,000 or more, he said.

He also argued that Simpson was wealthy, citing a 2003 tax form indicating income of $400,000.

Slates noted Simpson has expenses for his three children. "He has a right, like everybody else, to be protected (under the law)," Slates said.

Slates also said Simpson has repeatedly offered to settle the judgment with the Goldman family.

"It is inconceivable that the father of a murder victim would sit and haggle," Cook said.

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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Ryan Nakashima in Las Vegas, Robert Jablon in Santa Monica, Calif., and Jeremiah Marquez in Los Angeles; and Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles.