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CNN BREAKING NEWS
O.J. Simpson Arrest for Armed Robbery
Aired September 16, 2007 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TOOBIN: And the interesting question will be, what will be the position of the government? He is obviously a very well-known figure. It would be difficult for him to flee, but as all of us remember from the low-speed chase with Al Cowlings, after the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, the government believed that he was trying to flee then. So, they might argue that he will try to flee now, meaning, he should be denied bail or a very high bail should be set. He also lives in Florida, he's in Las Vegas, so that will make bail somewhat more difficult for him to get, but -- the arraignment will be the first time the issue of bail is dealt with and I don't know if Las Vegas has Sunday arraignments or not.
CHO: But Jeffrey, you're not suggesting that he's going to stay in jail this whole time? I mean, he will make bail at some point, right?
TOOBIN: Not necessarily. Armed robbery is a serious crime with a major jail term associated with it, and I assume that he will -- will probably be offered some very high bail, but you know, he has a precarious financial situation. He is not the wealthy man he used to be. He will probably have to post property for bond. I don't know if he owns the house where he lives. I don't know if it's heavily mortgaged. He will have to put up some serious assets, and I don't know if he has serious assets.
CHO: Well, clearly...
TOOBIN: So, I just don't think it's a forgone conclusion that he's going to get out on bail, and it certainly might take time to raise an appropriate bail package, when you talk about posting real estate, that tends to take a few days. So, I don't think his release will be imminent.
CHO: So, the fact he lives in Miami, yet was in Las Vegas and this is where this allegedly occurred, poses a bigger problem for you, is what you're saying?
TOOBIN: It does, because the issue with bail is assuring the defendant's appearance at trial, at court proceedings, and it's harder to guarantee the appearance of someone who doesn't live in the state.
CHO: Got it. OK. Jeffrey, I want to you stand by for just a moment, and I appreciate your insight.
That's our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin on the phone with us. But we want to bring in B.J. Bernstein, a defense attorney here in Atlanta. You have covered many high profile cases. Want to talk a little about the star power of O.J. Simpson. How do you defend a man like this who, by all accounts, most people really don't like?
B.J. BERNSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTY: It's going to be very difficult and, he alone compared to almost any other defendant you can pick, has a certain meaning in the general populace, because there are so many people who say, he got away with murder with one trial and so now that he's facing criminal charges, you're going to have -- if you ever get to the point of a jury, way down the road, here, but how are you going to pick a jury that's never heard of O.J. Simpson, know about him, know about his other case and can say that they'll be fair and impartial, here?
CHO: Well, given what you know, Jeffrey Toobin had said a moment ago that he was a little surprised, given what he does know about the case, that the arrest came this early, that perhaps, he thought, police might spend more time gathering evidence, putting their ducks in a row, as it were, before they made an arrest. Are you surprised that it came this soon?
BERNSTEIN: I am a little bit. They say there was discussion that O.J. was going to go in with attorneys and meet with law enforcement tomorrow, that was in some of the news reports. So, it was a little surprising to get the call to say, you know, O.J.'s been arrested. But again, remember, it's just probable cause to be able to arrest someone. It's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt, like at trial, and the police have apparently the statements of two men in the room who say that, you know, they ran in there and that guns were drawn and they were taking these items, and usually, you know, witnesses is all it takes. This is not going to be some sort of fancy case with strange you know, DNA-type evidence or things that takes time. It's a believability of the witnesses of what happened.
CHO: OK, we've got Ted Rowlands on the phone with us from Las Vegas.
Ted, we want to get to gnaw moment, but before we do, we want to talk very quickly about the guns, the mention of guns. Simpson has told our very own Ted Rowlands, by phone, more than once, that there were no guns involved in that incident, and yet according to our reporting and the associated press, police seized two firearms that may have been used in that incident. This is a problem for Simpson. Is it not? He made that statements.
BERNSTEIN: Absolutely. I mean, this is a lawyer's worst nightmare. I mean, for him to talk to CNN, he's talked to other news outlets, some of the witnesses have been talking about on TMZ, other Websites. But you don't want your client speaking. And you got to remember, in O.J. Simpson's original criminal trial he didn't testify. And so, the fact that you would think he would have learned that being silent can work to your benefit and instead he seems to be enjoying all this notoriety and, of course, around the same time as the release of that book, which is at the top of the Amazon list.
CHO: That's right. It is interesting timing. Some argued his ego has gotten in the way in this case. But we want to go to Ted Rowlands who is on the phone from that Las Vegas hotel lobby where Simpson had been staying until about an hour ago had he was put in police custody. I understand, Ted, you have new information?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We are outside the police facility where he is now.
CHO: Got it.
ROWLANDS: And he is in there and we understand from a source inside that it'll be probably an hour or two, in this facility, before he leaves here. It's unclear where he'll go from here, as you can imagine, the media is starting to assemble here.
One thing I should clarify here in talking with Mr. Simpson over the last few days, I really don't think that he was looking for any notoriety in this. In fact, you know, let's face it, his name popped up as a possible suspect in an armed robbery. The media came out here. He would have been much happier, I believe, being left alone, and he did, you know, make a statement and was -- was doing, I guess what you call a lawyer's worst nightmare in commenting on an ongoing situation, but I do believe that from his perspective, this was not welcome.
CHO: Well, and I know you have a long history with Mr. Simpson. I know you covered his murder trial a decade ago -- more than a decade ago. Ted, why don't we recap for our viewers what has transpired in Las Vegas in the past hour? Of course, culminating in the arrest of O.J. Simpson. Bring us up to date.
ROWLANDS: Well, really, you know, it started last Thursday when this alleged incident took place, and at a hotel which was off the strip, here in Las Vegas. Two men were selling O.J. Simpson and other sports memorabilia called police to say they were the victims of an armed robbery and one of the armed robbers was O.J. Simpson. '
Police responded, you mentioned probable cause. They most likely had enough to arrest Mr. Simpson initially when you bringing in a probable cause scenario, but they decided to wait, because O.J. Simpson was claiming, that no, this was big misunderstanding. So the last few days, police have been going over surveillance tape, talking to witnesses, last night they made the first arrest in this case, arresting a man from the state of Arizona as he was headed for the airport, according to a police source.
They had recovered two handguns, according to a police source involved in this, as a result of this investigation, and then this morning, yeah, this morning here in Las Vegas, Pacific Time, he, himself, O.J. Simpson was arrested in his hotel room at the Palm Casino. He has maintained that he was involved in this, but there were no guns, to his knowledge he didn't see any guns and he has maintained that this was his stuff that he was simply going in to get.
CHO: Ted Rowlands, doing great reporting for us from Las Vegas. Ted, thank you. We want you to stand by. Just to recap a major development in this case out of Las Vegas. O.J. Simpson, under arrest in the armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel room. He is under arrest, it happened about an hour ago. We've got high profile defense attorney B.J. Bernstein with us. She will be with us on the other side of the break. We also have senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on the phone with us from New York. Stay with us, we'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CHO: Hi, everyone, on his Sunday afternoon. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta, watching this breaking news out of Las Vegas. The headline, O.J. Simpson, the ex-football star, under arrest in Las Vegas in the armed robbery of sports memorabilia. It happened Thursday night at a hotel casino. Simpson claims in several interviews with our very own Ted Rowlands he was just taking back what was rightfully his. We do have the best legal team in the business on hand with us. Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, on the phone from New York. We also have B.J. Bernstein a defense attorney, here in Atlanta. She's covered several high-profile cases, but first we want to get to Ted Rowlands, our man on the ground in Las Vegas with the very latest.
Ted what do you know?
ROWLANDS: Well, at this moment, O.J. Simpson is in police custody. He is presumably being questioned inside. Whether or not his attorney is inside with him is unclear, most likely not, because he's just been taken in to custody within, about an hour ago. He was taken from his room at the Palms Hotel, where he'd been staying for the weekend, here, during this investigation. He had said on numerous occasions and phone conversations that he didn't have any plans on leaving, he was cooperating with police during this, he said he had nothing to hide. And this morning he even told us, "the truth will eventually come out," seeming to indicate he may be forecasted that this would get to this point.
But right now, he is in police custody. It's unclear if he'll be able to make bail today. This is Sunday, here. We just really don't know that -- whether he'll be forced to spend a night in jail or he'll be able to make bail. Eventually, obviously, he'll be able to make bail because of the potential charges against him, which one would assume the most serious would be armed robbery. A serious charge, but one that, obviously there would be associated with.
CHO: All right, let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, let's talk a little about the next 48 hours or so. What can we expect? TOOBIN: Well, he will have to get a lawyer in Las Vegas. And the frustrating thing for him is that the best-known criminal defense lawyer in town also happens to be the mayor of Las Vegas. So, unfortunately he won't be able to represent O.J. But, you know, one thing that's going to happen, it happens in every case, is that a mug shot will be taken and fingerprints will be taken, but just to refresh everyone's memory about the iconic events of 1994, his mug shot turned out to be a very significant event in the racial history of the case, because if you recall, both "Time" magazine and "Newsweek" put O.J. Simpson's mug shot on the cover, and "Time" darkened the mug shot making him look darker-skinned than he really is and a lot of people accused "Time" of racial insensitivity, trying to make a man look more sinister by making him look darker. So, everything in connection with the O.J. Simpson case has some lingering connection -- significance. So, you know, we will get a mug shot, presumably, by the end of the day, or perhaps by tomorrow.
CHO: And there we see file footage of him with the late Johnnie Cochran, the man who acquitted him, helped to get him acquitted of murder in the criminal case. Of course, he was later found liable in the civil case, and the Goldman family was awarded more than $33 million. He's still trying to pay that off, as you well know, Jeffrey.
But, let's talk a little bit about -- about the racial -- I want to get more about that, because we haven't touched on that. Is it your sense that the racial tenure of this country has changed enough that it might not play as big of a role in this case going forward as in the murder case?
TOOBIN: Well I think the rush of support that O.J. received from the Black community was -- was a very significant part of the case. The jury was 11 Black people, one White person, and that was the jury that acquitted him and the jury that found him liable in Santa Monica was overwhelmingly White. So the case -- certainly had racial overtones right from the beginning, including the claim that Mark Fuhrman, the detective in the case, had planted evidence, because he was a racist.
You know, I think O.J. has sacrificed most of the goodwill he's had with everyone in the country over the past 11 years. He's not -- he's not a figure who has ever, you know, contributed anything his time, his energy, his money, to the Black community, so he's undoubtedly less popular than we was, but on one issue that may come back to haunt the police is this issue of rush to judgment. That could be made successfully by the prosecution in his defense in the murder case, and the fact that they arrested O.J. Simpson at this point, just two days after the alleged crime without completing their investigation is something the defense may want to work with.
CHO: Well, we certainly are a long ways away from those Hertz commercials where O.J. Simpson was seen running through the airport, a certain generation, people of a certain age remember that, but we want to bring -- Jeffrey stand by for us. But we want to bring in B.J. Bernstein a defense attorney. You've handled many high-profile cases. So, let's talk about this. Jeffrey Toobin touched on the fact many people simply, in this country, do not like O.J. Simpson. Everyone knows his name, but not a lot of people like him. He's also made several statements to the media including several conversations that he ad with our very own Ted Rowlands. So, how do you defend a man like this?
BERNSTEIN: Well, right now he's got to stop talking. And one of the big concerns right now for me is a defense attorney, if were you handling the case says, remember this, in terms of timing of events, we thought O.J. Would go tomorrow to the police station, that was the original report, but a co-defendant was arrested last night, and then they came and got O.J. in his hotel room today, which suggesting that possibly this other person who was arrested may have made statements that were damaging to O.J. and that that may be why they accelerate the time schedule to actually go get him.
Because this is not the first arrest in the case. It is the most famous arrest in the case, clearly, but the -- and this is speculation, but whenever you know, we see a co-defendant, you know, in the Michael Vick case, one turned state's evidence, and then another and another. We don't know what that co-defendant said, and I think it's significant that you know, clearly, somebody has been communicating for O.J. with the police, and yet they show up at his hotel room and arrest him that way, when normally, when you have ta type of client, you're allowed to turn them in.
CHO: Well, and let's talk further about this, because, there may be as many as four outstanding suspects, even when you include these two arrests, Simpson himself, and the alleged accomplice, which came last night, that arrest. So going forward, some have suggested that when you take all of these suspects, Simpson's the big prize, so from a prosecutorial standpoint, don't you try get all of those people around Simpson to turn against him?
BERNSTEIN: If Simpson's the prize. Because the other problem is we don't know who these other men are. What if they have prior criminal records? What if they're on probation or parole? So, from a prosecutorial point of view -- you know, from a popular point of you view, yes, O.J. Simpson is an icon to go after. But in terms of who is really the bad guy, who is the dangerous one? It actually could be some of these other people that we don't know.
So, I wouldn't already assume that O.J. is the major target, but he does have the interest. You know, it's his items that the people were going for. It was his memorabilia that he said was stolen. So, these other people don't have as much interest in getting back the materials as O.J. does. So, again, that's going to be something that's played out as we learn more and possibly hear from the police soon.
CHO: Defense attorney B.J. Bernstein, thank you for joining us. We're going to ask you to stay with us throughout the hour. We've senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, former U.S. Attorney, Kendall Coffey, and our very own Ted Rowlands who has been speaking with Simpson, by phone, over the past several days. The headline, of course, O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a hotel casino. We'll have much more on the other side of the break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
CHO: I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We want to bring you up to date on breaking news coming from Las Vegas. O.J. Simpson, at this hour, in police custody under arrest, charges pending in the armed robbery, Thursday night, of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel casino. For those of you viewers who have not been following the story very closely, we want to bring you up to date on all of the developments up until this point, culminating in Simpson's arrest late today, and for that we go to CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Again suspected of possible involvement in a serious crime, again proclaiming his innocence. This time, it's robbery at a Las Vegas hotel. The alleged victim, a sports memorabilia collector, says former NFL star O.J. Simpson and several other men took items from him Thursday night in a room at the Palace Station Hotel. He described the incident to TMZ.com.
ALFRED BEARDSLEY, ALLEGED VICTIM: And I was directed at gun point to pack the items up in the condition they were brought in.
TODD: Alfred Beardsley told TMZ.com Simpson seemed to be in charge. The Web site quotes Beardley's saying the group pretended to be customers interested in buying the suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted in 1995 of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend.
Simpson told the "Associated Press" quoted, "Everybody knows this is stolen stuff. 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."
The man Simpson mentioned, auctioneer Thomas Riccio, backs him up. But implied that someone else had a gun.
THOMAS RICCIO, SIMPSON ASSOCIATE: O.J. came in, did not break in, trying to get hit stuff back. He did not have any guns. He didn't have any gun with him. And he and his people confiscated the stuff. That's basically what happened. There was no break-in. O.J. was not the one with the gun and, you know, and he did not steal anything.
CHO: All right. So we want to bring in our very own Ted Rowlands, our man on the ground in Las Vegas. He's spoken with Simpson several times over the past several days including a phone conversation he had just this morning, just hours before his arrest.
So Ted, what has Simpson told you and bring us up to date on what has happened this afternoon?
ROWLANDS: Well, right now, O.J. Simpson is in a facility of the Metro Police Department, here in Las Vegas, presumably being questioned and processed to some degree. We're waiting on information in terms of whether or not he'll make bail here today and what will transpire in the short term. Basically, O.J. Simpson in the beginning, has said on numerous occasions in phone conversations with CNN, he is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. What he was actually trying to do is just got back his stuff.
He says he found out that there was this sale going on of his personal items, things that have been missing for years, things he says was stolen out of his Rockingham home in Los Angeles after the acquittal in his criminal trial. He says he found this out, went up there with a couple buddies, yes, they did use a ruse to get in, but did not use violence and, no, there were no guns.
In conversations I've had with Mr. Simpson the last few days, he has wavered a bit, saying: Well, you know, I didn't see any guns at all. So, it went from absolutely no guns, to I didn't see any guns. So, from his perspective, this was something that was, yes, he was involved with, but, no, really nothing went wrong here. If you listen to the victims and you just heard some of that, they tell a much different story. The alleged victims, here, and police obviously think they have enough to arrest Mr. Simpson and that's exactly what they've done.
CHO: Well, and defense attorney B.J. Bernstein just saying just a moment ago that perhaps it was something that the alleged accomplice told police last night when that man was arrested that may have led to this arrest of O.J. Simpson, today.
Ted, I want to talk a little about what we can expect going forward. Earlier when he said there might be as many as four outstanding suspects. What do we know about any future arrests, if anything?
ROWLANDS: Well, clearly there are four other names that are involved in this, and that's according to the alleged victims in this case, but also O.J., himself. He acknowledges that he went up there with these other guys.
It wouldn't be a stretch to assume that those people are subjected to the same situation as Mr. Simpson is, and the other alleged accomplice, who was arrested last night. According to a source close to the police department here, that's the subject arrested while on the way to the airport, and he is in custody facing very serious charges, including two counts of robbery with a (INAUDIBLE) weapon. So it would be (INAUDIBLE) the other people involved once identified would potentially be subject to the same charges. We haven't heard of any more arrests besides O.J. Simpson and the one accomplice. CHO: Well, and we are awaiting a news conference on the part of Las Vegas authorities, the police department, perhaps the sheriff's department, as well. In the meantime, we want to get to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, we also have on the line, Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney, and in the studio here, defense attorney B.J. Bernstein.
But Jeffrey, as Ted alluded to in his conversations with Simpson over the past several day, Simpson says he was just simply taking some of his stuff back, taking back what was rightfully his. The problem is, I would imagine you will say, that just doesn't stand up in court. Does it?
TOOBIN: Well, even if this is his property, he did not have the right to wield a gun or join others who are wielding guns and enter a hotel room and simply take it. The law has procedures for returning property that you believe is yours, and that sure as heck isn't it. So, the fact that he believed this property was his is not a defense to armed robbery. If, in fact, that is how his fellow -- he and his colleagues got it back.
CHO: Former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey also on the line with us.
Kendall, I want to know from you, given the fact that O.J. Simpson is a household name, famous, or some would say infamous, how possible, how likely is it he's able to get a fair trial?
KENDALL COFFEE, FMR U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think it would be very tough to find a jury that hasn't heard of O.J. Simpson, and in fact, most people have an idea one way or another as to whether he got away with murder, and that's got to make it very tough, during jury selection. The other thing that his extraordinary visibility does, is it gives the police a clear picture on who the big target is here.
And so we can expect a divide and conquer strategy where they hit some of the other alleged accomplices, try if they can to push them to whatever it takes to pressure them to get testimony against O.J., because at the end of the day, I think police authorities would be very happy if the one that's really on the firing line is O.J. Simpson, and they make relatively modest deals with the others in order to bag what would be a huge prize from a law enforcement standpoint.
ALINA CHO, CNN HOST: Right. He certainly is the big fish in your words. Kendall Coffey, thank you. We want you to stand by along with Jeffrey Toobin but we want to bring in B.J. Bernstein, defense attorney, handled many high-profile cases. Given Simpson's notoriety, how do you defend a guy like this? Especially given the fact that he's made several statements to reporters, perhaps already perjured himself in the eyes of a potential jury?
B.J. BERNSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you are going to have to look at the credibility and believability of the people who are complaining to begin with. Because it is interesting, the two guys that say that this happened to them have actually now backed off a little bit. One of them has said publicly, well, I talked to O.J. We've worked things out.
CHO: But that doesn't matter in the eyes of police. A crime is a crime, if indeed that's what happened in side that hotel room?
BERNSTEIN: Precisely. When you call police and say a crime's happened, you can't just change your mind and unring that bell. It's the police are the ones that actually file the charges. It's clearly what happened here. These two individuals will have to tell the truth under oath, and just because you worked something out, a gentlemen's agreement that was the time before the police were involved.
CHO: To be clear, by all accounts and by our very own Ted Rowlands, reporting, Simpson was not the one handling the guns, as it were, if there were indeed guns involved? And now we do have some reporting on the part of CNN and the Associated Press, that police have seized two firearms. The problem is, Simpson has said, to Ted Rowland and others, there were no guns involved. That's a problem, isn't it?
BERNSTEIN: There's going to be two possible crimes. You have armed robbery, which under Nevada law apparently carries four to 30 years or robbery which is without a weapon. In other words, I come in and I intimidate you to give me the items and that's 2 to 15 years. Whether there's a gun or no gun it doesn't necessarily mean there's not a charge. The other part of this, the concept of a party to a crime. That would be how they would be charging Simpson with this, in that he may not have been holding the gun, but when you're part of something --
CHO: You're a participant.
BERNSTEIN: You're a participant, then you are held just as accountable as the person wielding the gun, and here the difficulty for Simpson is, who's the one to benefit from getting back these items? They were supposedly items stolen from O.J. Simpson. He's clearly the one who's going to instigate going to get "my stuff" back.
CHO: According to at least one report, a Las Vegas newspaper is reporting in a $5,000 worth of sports memorabilia was taken back, including signed items from Pete Rose and Joe Montana. So we'll have to wait until all of that plays out.
But in the meantime I want to go back to Ted Rowlands, who is our man on the ground in Las Vegas. He was there at the hotel when Simpson was arrested this afternoon. You're now, I understand, Ted, at the police station. Tell me what transpired today, late this afternoon, and, also, what can we expect going forward?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just over, almost about an hour and a half ago, O.J. Simpson was taken in to custody from the Palms Hotel where he had been staying this weekend. He's now inside the precinct here in Las Vegas a few miles away from that hotel casino, is being questioned presumably and we are told we will get a statement from the Metro Las Vegas Metro Police.
When that will occur, it's unclear. If it's within the next few minutes or if it will be in the next few hours, but we do expect some sort of a briefing to the media as to what to expect from here on out, but what we can tell you is that O.J. Simpson was the second of arrests involving this case, alleged accomplice according to the source close to the investigation. A man was arrested last night on his way to the airport. Another one of the people that is alleged to have taken place in this armed robbery. Also been told that two guns that are believed to be weapons used in this have been seized by police as a result of [INAUDIBLE].
CHO: All right. CNN's Ted Rowlands in Las Vegas for us, we also have the best legal team in the business, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, B.J. Bernstein a defense attorney and former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey all on the line with us or here in Atlanta. In B.J.'s case, watching the story very closely, the headline being "O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas at this hour." We will have much more on the other side of the break.
CHO: Hi, everybody. I Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We want to bring you up to date on some breaking news, the headline being O.J. Simpson under suspicion and now under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with a Thursday night armed robbery of sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel casino. Now Simpson maintained from the start that the items in question were his, but they weren't exactly priceless. In fact, memorabilia dealers we spoke to say Simpson's, quote/unquote, star power faded long ago and the value of his memorabilia faded with it. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a tiny Las Vegas strip mall. Rick NARA wheels and deals in the high stakes world of sports memorabilia.
RICK NARA, OWNER, PLAYBALL: Randy Johnson.
GUTIERREZ: He's a 20-year veteran who's done big business with the biggest names in sports. Mickey Mantle, Joe Theismann, Gale Sayers. He's also done business with one of the most know notorious, O.J. Simpson.
NARA: That was the day he came in here, we had it signed.
GUTIERREZ: This poster, $150, a signed photo, $50. His football jersey $300. Here in Rick's shop, this football with O.J.'s autograph runs about $150, but back in the day prior to O.J.'s legal trouble, Rick could get about twice as much.
NARA: There's collectors out there that wanted a suit worn by O.J. at the trial. They might pay up to at least maybe $10,000.
GUTIERREZ: But O.J. Memorabilia is a sore subject for Rita, Rick's wife and business partner.
You didn't want to make money from it? RTIA NARA, RICK'S WIFE: Oh, absolutely not! And I don't want to pay him a penny. I made him promise me that he would not have him again, have him come in the shop again.
GUTIERREZ: But Nara cringes every time the star falls from grace, because it affects his bottom line.
RICK NARA: It's like the stock market. You're there and then down. His rookie card at one time, 1970 rookie card from Topps went from $300 down to $30.
GUTIERREZ: And O.J. wasn't his only hit.
MARTY RODICK, SPORTS RADIO HOST: We're talking about Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson. Pete Rose, Michael Vick and O.J. Simpson. And, you know, each and every one of these guys were at the top of their game.
GUTIERREZ: Nara says with time even painted memorabilia can regain its value.
Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Las Vegas, Nevada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: For viewers just joining us right now, the headline, O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an armed robbery of sports memorabilia. We have on the -- all right. We've got live for us now in front of a camera, we understand, our very own CNN's Ted Rowlands, who is has spoken to Simpson himself several times on the phone including this morning. Bring our viewers up to date Ted.
ROWLANDS: Well, O.J. Simpson is in the building behind me presumably being questioned. He has been here for the better part of about a half hour, 45 minutes, he was arrested about an hour ago, maybe an hour and a half ago now, at the Palms Hotel where he was staying. This is after an intense investigation by Las Vegas Metro Police. On Thursday night is when the alleged incident took place at a hotel casino. O.J. Simpson and the alleged victims have different stories but a lot of similarities in their stories as well.
The only real difference was that O.J. said there were no guns involved no one was roughed up, but he was in that hotel room and he says he did take merchandise. He says he was simply repossessing what was his, that he caught these guys and knew they were caught when he entered that room. The guys in the room selling this merchandise, which apparently included some of O.J. Simpson's personal affects, they admit that some of the stuff was indeed O.J. Simpson's personal property at one time.
They say they came in to this, owning it, through a purchase. They say that O.J. and his friends barrowed in to of his friends apparently had guns. Las Vegas police have been looking at surveillance videos, doing interviews and today they arrested O.J. Simpson. Last night they arrested one of his alleged accomplices, who was a resident of the state of Arizona who apparently was on his way to the airport when taken in to custody and according to a source very close to the investigation, they've also retrieved two firearms which police at this point believe were the firearms used in this alleged armed robbery.
CHO: By all accounts, Simpson who was taken in to custody, though he wasn't expecting it, I know he told you, Ted he was taken in to custody from the hotel, through a back entrance, without incident. Obviously, this is -- he said, a he said/he said situation. Ted, you've spoken to people on both sides, Simpson the account first. What has he told you about what happened on Thursday night?
ROWLANDS: He says basically, yeah, he set this whole thing up. It was a ruse to get his stuff back. One of his friends pretended to be a buyer and the person that first tip him off. That these items were for sale acted as the mediatory. They went to the hotel. O.J. and his friends went in; O.J. says they walked in to the room. Surprised the people that were selling it and O.J. say, yeah I was a little angry. I yelled at them. These were people that I dealt with during my years in and out of professional football, in the memorabilia business.
So they gave me my stuff back, we left, no big deal. That is his account. The other account is the one that is damning, the other account from the alleged victims in this case that guns were involved and indeed the merchandise was taken at gunpoint out of that hotel room
CHO: I want to talk to control room for a minute. Cue up the tape of the alleged victim in that case. Meantime, while we're doing that, Ted I want to talk to you more about what that alleged victim told you. What did he say?
ROWLAND: He basically said they were there expecting a high- interest, high-level type broker, buyer. They assembled about 75,000 to $100,000 worth of merchandise, in their estimation in the room and were excited to make a big sell and then, all of a sudden it wasn't this buyer at all. It was O.J. Simpson, and he did acknowledge that some of the items were O.J.'s at one point, but he also said I paid for these items and O.J. took them. And that it had nothing to did with O.J., Joe Montana signed stuff, Pete Rose signed baseball.
I talked to O.J. about that. He says, you're right we did take some stuff that didn't belong to me and I've made phone calls to try to return those items to their proper owners, and he says that he yeah, that in the chaos of what happened, he took some stuff that wasn't his, but was more than willing to return it.
CHO: I know the alleged victims that you spoke to, had likened to a home invasion. He said it all happened very fast. Didn't it? In a matter of four to five minutes, right?
ROWLANDS: Yes, very startling. He says they were in the room awaiting this buyer and, boom, he said the door burst open. The door was open; obviously, they had the key through the facilitator. He said it was like a home invasion. The second man in had a gun drawn and the last man in was O.J. Simpson and when he came in, he was hollering at everybody inside the room. Now, O.J. has, in conversations in the past with him over the past few days, sort of now acknowledged, that if there were guns possibly there may have been at least one gun, because of what a friend has told him, but he says he didn't see the gun, he didn't know anyone had guns and would have not allowed them to have guns if, indeed, he knew that was happening. That's his statement, what he is claiming in conversations that we've had with him over the past few days, but he has been arrested here in apparently the Las Vegas Metro Police believe they have enough to take him into custody.
We should really point out in a normal case if this wasn't O.J. Simpson, let's face it. As soon as two witnesses allege that they were the victims of an armed robbery and the identity of that person is known, they'd have pulled him to custody within minutes, because they had probable cause. They said they wanted to take their time, acknowledging they knew who they were dealing with and now have gotten to this point taking him in to custody this morning here in Las Vegas.
CHJO: Ted, we want you to stand by for a minute. We have cued up that tape of Alfred Beardsley, one of the alleged victims. Let's play that now.
One of the alleged victim's just video of one of the alleged victims, Alfred Beardsley. The other man, a sports memorabilia collector, who you spoke to, Ted, I want to bring in B.J. Bernstein a defense attorney. You've handled many high-profile cases. Let's talk a little about O.J. Simpson, the defendant, again. How do you defend a guy like this? He's spoken to many people in the media including our very own Ted Rowlands. What's next for him?
BERNSTEIN: The next thing, the lawyer's got to get him to stop talking and get a handle on what the co-defendants are saying. One person arrested the night before. That actually may have accelerated the pace of the police going after O.J. Simpson now and whether they've talked to the other suspects and just not arrested them yet. We don't know. There's a lot of unanswered questions of the defense attorney on behalf of Simpson needs to get control of and then get control of your client, because talking doesn't help the situation.
CHO: And these are some serious charges he could be facing. Charges are pending. We have word of an arrest. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas. Having said that, as we await the details of the charges, one possibility is armed robbery, even though by all accounts, if there were guns involved, he wasn't holding them?
BERNSTEIN: Exactly. What happens under in Nevada law, armed robbery faces 4 to 30 years. If is robbery, which means you can still intimidate someone without a weapon, it's still a serious felony, 2 to 15 years or if it is conspiracy, like the guy last night was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, That you're facing 6 to 12 years. No matter which way you look at it, he's facing serious time and even though he didn't actually carry the weapon, that's not part -- that's not required, under the law. If you are part of the enterprise. If you were the one benefiting or there and part of it, you can be convicted just like the person who has the weapon. So that's why it's very serious. CHO: Interesting. Our Jeffrey Toobin had brought up the point that armed robbery is a very serious charge, and it is possible that he may be kept in jail. Is that possible, in your estimation, do you think?
BERNSTEIN: It's possible. I think it depends -- what's good for him is this, what he didn't leave Las Vegas when he was under suspicious.
CHO: Because he lives in Miami.
BERNSTEIN: Exactly. So had he immediately taken off and you keep playing back in your mind that old Bronco chase. He didn't do that this time. So that is to his benefit. The problem becomes, one of the factors that a judge under the law has to look at is the likelihood that you're going to return back to court if you make bond. When you don't live in a certain area, when you have no ties to an area that can make the bond much higher. I don't think it will be a case of no bond. Had he been convicted before, different story. But he doesn't have a conviction, and -- but you can look at some possible high dollar amounts here.
CHO: Right. Important to point out, Jeffrey Toobin pointed out, a lot of notoriety around O.J. Simpson's name but no felony convictions. He was found liable in civil court for the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, not in a criminal court. Having said that B.J. Bernstein thank you for joining us. We want you to stay with us.
Just to recap of the headline being, O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an armed robbery of sports memorabilia. Simpson saying in several statements that he was simply taking back his own stuff, and what was rightfully his. We are going to have much more, including a news conference from Las Vegas authorities on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
CHO: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We want to bring you up to date on some breaking news. The headline, O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an armed robbery at a hotel casino in Las Vegas of sports memorabilia that Simpson says was rightfully his. We've got CNN's Ted Rowlands at the police station where we are awaiting a news conference at the top of the hour. Ted what do you know?
ROWLANDS: We just had a little update from one of the representatives from Metro Police saying that O.J. Simpson is inside still being questioned and has not been processed. He will leave this facility and go to another facility in Las Vegas so that he can be formerly booked. It is still unclear if he'll make bail if at all, considering it is a Sunday and it would require a judge to be involved, et cetera, et cetera.
That's what we know right now. We are awaiting more from a news conference tentatively set to start within the next five to ten minutes. Whether or not they'll be able to actually start it then remains to the seen. Things have been, you can imagine, very fluid throughout this situation, but right now, Mr. Simpson is inside this building being questioned, and has been arrested. The AP is now reporting that he is facing multiple felony charges including armed robbery, which obviously if true, and we assume it is, those are the charges, we have been told his accomplice is facing, serious business and very serious charges they are alleged O.J. Simpson needs to answer to.
CHO: Those charges are pending. Ted, you're watching this very closely. We want you to stand by and get back to us with new details. Meantime, we want to go to former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey on the line with us. Kendall, given what you know about the case, charges pending what can we expect going forward?
COFFEY: I think the police have, in light speed, put together a case against O.J. Simpson. The immediate thing is going to be processing the probable charge cause. Within a few days, the prosecutors will file formal charges. Meanwhile, the thing that's got to have O.J. Simpson very, very concerned, and everyone should be watching is, what happens with the three or four alleged accomplices? Have them decide to cooperate against O.J.? That could take this from a he said/they said/they said, to everybody says he's guilty and O.J.'s hanging out by himself. The fact that the police recovered two weapons has a huge amount of credibility to the allegations of the victims that this was, in effect, a home invasion robbery.
CHO: Kendall, I want to ask you this. Because we are just getting word from the Associated Press out of Las Vegas, police say I'm quoting, "O.J. Simpson facing multiple felony charges including robbery with a deadly weapon." How serious is this?
COFFEY: Well, we talked a little before. If that charge were to be the subject of -- you're looking at least four years of prison. The upside could be several decades. So it's very, very serious stuff. And if he's charged even a plea deal is not likely to keep him out of prison. This isn't house arrest. This isn't months in the county jail. This is years in state, if a conviction were to result.
CHO: Kendall Coffey former U.S. Attorney, we thank you for joining us. We have also got Ted Rowlands standing by in front of the police station where we are awaiting a news conference at the top of the hour, in the next couple of minutes, if the Las Vegas authorities are on time. The headline being, O.J. Simpson, ex-football star, under arrest in Las Vegas. Much more on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
CHO: Welcome back, everybody. He was under suspicion. Now, he is under arrest. We're standing by with a news conference with Las Vegas police and the reason why they have taken O.J. Simpson into custody. We're live with the latest.
Hi everyone, I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Fredricka has the day off. O.J. Simpson as we just said back in jail at this hour. Police have also recovered two guns in connection with the case that sparked his arrest. In one of the history's most sensational murder cases, the ex-footballer and hall of famer was arrested today on charges related to armed robbery. With the story live from Los Vegas CNN's Ted Rowlands, he's been on the phone with Simpson, including a conversation you had with him this morning. Right Ted? Bring us up to date.
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