One of the memorabilia dealers whom O.J. Simpson and three other men are accused of confronting at gunpoint says tapes of the incident being aired by the media do not present a complete picture of what happened last week in a hotel room in the Palace Station Casino in Las Vegas.
“I heard the tapes that were released to the media,” Alfred Beardsley told TODAY host Matt Lauer during a live interview Wednesday. “I have concerns about these tapes, whether they’re doctored, whether they’re edited, looped. They’re not verbatim, and there’s information missing.”
Beardsley offered one example to back up his contention.
“Simpson confronted me, saying, ‘Man, what’s wrong with you? You have a turnover order for this stuff. What are you doing with this stuff?’ I have no clue where that statement went,” Beardsley said.
Thomas Riccio, another memorabilia collector, allegedly set up the meeting in the hotel room, telling Beardsley and his partner, Bruce Fromong, that a fan of the former NFL running back would pay big money for Simpson items. He also recorded the meeting and reportedly sold the tape that Beardsley believes may have been doctored to TMZ.com, a celebrity gossip Web site.
Beardsley said, after some prodding by Lauer, that he believes that he is the legal owner of the memorabilia, whose value is estimated by collectors at $100,000 or more. But, he said, “the question of ownership now really needs to be determined in a court.”
Among those who may be fighting over the memorabilia will be the family of Ron Goldman, who was brutally murdered along with Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole, outside her Los Angeles home.
Ron Goldman’s sister, Kim Goldman, and their father, Fred Goldman, have claimed that Simpson’s memorabilia should be turned over to them to help settle the $33-million wrongful death judgment they won from Simpson two years after he was acquitted in 1996 of the murders.
The Goldmans have never collected any money from Simpson.
“We’ve been trying to collect assets from him for the past 11 years,” Kim Goldman told Lauer. “I don’t know too much about this particular loot. I know our attorneys were in court trying to work some of that stuff out. He’s ordered to turn over his assets. He’s ordered to pay us millions of dollars, and if he went to Las Vegas to collect on those things so we wouldn’t, there’s some irony in that.”
Karma for O.J.?
Kim Goldman admitted that seeing the televised Las Vegas perp walk starring O.J. Simpson, the man she is certain killed her brother and got away with it, felt better than good.
“I do feel a little bit of elation,” Goldman said. “Maybe karma tapped him on the shoulder.”
Still, Goldman said, as strange as it sounds, she wants Simpson to get a fair trial. She also would like to see him behind bars. Las Vegas prosecutors have charged him and three others with multiple felony charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping.
Beardsley said that he saw one man holding a gun with Simpson; Fromong, who has since suffered a massive heart attack and is hospitalized in Los Angeles, has said he saw two. Beardsley said one of the men with Simpson held a gun to Fromong’s face.
“At no time did Mr. Simpson hold any firearm at all,” Beardsley told Lauer.
The dealer said that the hotel room was very small and he was seated against the wall at the far end of it when Simpson and his companions burst through the door, saying they were police.
“One of the thugs — that’s the best way I can call them — somebody blurted out, ‘Police,’” he said. “They came in military style, just like police would come in ... I was ordered to stand up. I was frisked. I thought it may have been law enforcement —the FBI — because I was ordered to stand up and I was frisked for weapons.”
Simpson directed his companions to fill pillowcases with the memorabilia, which included autographed footballs, certificates and photos, according to Beardsley.
Most if not all of the items were recovered by police along with handguns. The other three men charged have been identified as Walter Alexander, Michael McClinton and Clarence Stewart Jr.
Police reports indicate that there may have been others involved, and it is not clear how many men came into the room with Simpson.
Beardsley called for calm. “I really think that people need to relax, let the lawyers on both sides do their jobs, have these tapes professionally analyzed and look at their masters,” he said. “I spoke to O.J. three times. I know his side of the story. I have concerns about this Thomas Riccio like everybody else involved. They were confidential conversations. I won’t release the context of the conversations.”
Goldman, too, called for calm. “I hope he’s treated like any other person that’s accused of a crime,” she told Lauer.
On the other hand, there was some satisfaction in seeing Simpson in custody.
“It’s bizarre to think that he might spend his life or many, many, many years in jail for trying to defraud our family,” she said. “To see him in handcuffs, there is a little bit of pride. I hope in some way that the pressure we’ve put on him for 13 years drove him to this. I hope that he pays for what he’s done, if in fact he’s guilty of it.”
Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, told reporters that he plans to ask a judge to release Simpson on his own recognizance so that he can return to his home in Miami and prepare to fight the charges.