O.J. denies Vegas confrontation was robbery

LAS VEGAS — If O.J. Simpson is concerned about his most recent brush with the law, it was not apparent Saturday as the aging former NFL star lounged poolside at the Palms Hotel.

“I’m not walking around feeling sad or anything. I’ve done nothing wrong,” Simpson told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m having a great time.”

Besides, he quipped, “I thought what happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.”

Earlier, in an interview in the hotel lobby, Simpson offered the most detailed account to date of a confrontation Thursday night in which he and some associates are under investigation for allegedly robbing two men of sports memorabilia and other items at gunpoint.

Simpson said he and his friends went to the Palace Station Hotel to reclaim various football souvenirs and personal photos, some of them taken by his slain ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

Simpson said the meeting was arranged by a California auctioneer who had been contacted by the prospective sellers and was suspicious about how the men had obtained the items. The auctioneer, Thomas Riccio, set up the meeting with the buyers, Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, Simpson said.

Simpson said he brought some “golfing buddies and some of their friends” to the meeting to help him carry his belongings out of the hotel.

He denied that he or any of the other men was armed, as Riccio and the sellers have alleged.

“I’m O.J. Simpson. How am I going to think that I’m going to rob somebody and get away with it?” he said. “You’ve got to understand, this ain’t somebody going to steal somebody’s drugs or something like that. This is somebody going to get his private (belongings) back. That’s it. That’s not robbery.”

Police, however, are taking the allegation seriously, according to a story published Saturday in The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which quoted a source close to the investigation as saying: “We do believe a robbery occurred and O.J. was part of it. He went there with goons who were armed.”

Simpson declined to identify the men who were with him, but said they were wearing suits and headed to a dinner party later.

“They’re not gangsters — not that I know of anyway,” he said. “I don’t hang out with gangsters. I hang out with golfers.”

Simpson acknowledged he became emotional when he entered the hotel room and saw that Beardsley and Fromong — whom he knows from past dealings — were trying to sell what he insists were items stolen from him by a former sports agent.

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