LAS VEGAS – An apparent audiotape of O.J. Simpson’s standoff with men he accused of stealing his memorabilia begins with the ex-NFL star demanding, “Don’t let nobody out of here.”
“Think you can steal my s— and sell it?” the voice identified as Simpson’s said.
Simpson was arrested Sunday and booked on charges connected with what police described as a robbery at a Las Vegas hotel. In the audiotape released Monday by the celebrity news Web site TMZ.com, a man believed to be Simpson is heard shouting questions while other men yell orders to the people in the room.
The recording was made by Thomas Riccio, co-owner of the auction house Universal Rarities, according to TMZ. Simpson has said Riccio called him several weeks ago to tell him collectors were selling some of his items.
Riccio did not immediately return a call for comment Monday, but he told TMZ he believed Simpson was planning to confront Alfred Beardsley, who was allegedly planning to auction off the memorabilia.
Another collector in the hotel room, Bruce Fromong, said the meeting was set up as if the men were customers, but when they arrived, it was clear something else was going on.
“The door burst open and they came in almost commando style, O.J. Simpson and some of his people, I guess you would call it, with guns drawn,” Fromong told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday. “O.J. at that time was saying, ‘I want my stuff. I want my stuff.’
“The thing in my mind as soon as I saw him, I’m thinking, ‘O.J., how can you be this dumb? You’re in enough trouble.'”
Fromong said Simpson later left him a voice mail message telling him some of Fromong’s things were “mixed up” with his and asking how he could give them back.
“It’s like a bad dream,” Beardsley said. “I’m sad that O.J. is in custody.”
Simpson has said he was accompanied by men he met at a wedding cocktail party, and that they took the collectibles.
It was merely a confrontation with no guns, Simpson said. He said autographed sports collectibles, his Hall of Fame certificate, a photograph with former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and video from his first wedding were all his, and that they were stolen from him and were about to be fenced by unethical collectors.
The items likely belonged to Simpson at one point, Fromong said, “but these were things that belonged to him a long time ago.”
Police said they weren’t sure who now owned the memorabilia.
“Whether or not the property belonged to Mr. Simpson or not is still in debate,” Lt. Clint Nichols said Sunday. “Having said that, the manner in which this property was taken, we have a responsibility to look into that, irregardless of who the property belonged to.”
After being whisked away in handcuffs, Simpson was booked Sunday night on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit a crime and burglary with a firearm, police said.
The district attorney said he expected Simpson to ultimately be charged with seven felonies and one gross misdemeanor.
If convicted, Simpson could face up to 30 years in prison on each robbery count.
A judge ordered Simpson held without bail. Las Vegas court information officer Michael Sommermeyer said Simpson’s arraignment was set for Wednesday, with a bail hearing to be held after that.
Simpson attorney Yale Galanter said Monday he hoped to get Simpson released before then.
“Mr. Simpson is not guilty of these charges,” Galanter said. He declined to say whether he had met with police and prosecutors.
“We believe it is an extremely defensible case based on conflicting witness statements, flip-flopping by witnesses and witnesses making deals with the government to flip,” Galanter said Sunday.
Beardsley blamed the incident on Riccio, who he claims told Simpson that his property was in the room in Las Vegas: “If they don’t charge Riccio, I will be very upset.”