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CNN BREAKING NEWS
O.J. Arrestedin Vegas Hotel Robbery
Aired September 16, 2007 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: In the meantime, the next hour of NEWSROOM begins right now.
And welcome back, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. He was under suspicion, now he's under arrest. We are awaiting a news conference with Las Vegas police. And the reason why they have taken O.J. Simpson into custody, we are live with the latest.
Hi, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. Fredricka has the day off. Breaking news at this hour. We're going to go straight to Ted Rowlands. He is with us now on the ground in Las Vegas at the police station.
Ted, what do you know?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alina, it appears as though O.J. Simpson may be leaving here in the next little bit. There seems to be a little bit of excitement around the building. He's still inside. And the latest we've heard is that he's inside being questioned by Las Vegas Metro Police.
You mentioned we are awaiting the start of a news conference, which was scheduled to start at the top of the hour, but this has been very fluid throughout this entire episode. The news conference has been shifted around, shifted around. As you might imagine, it's very hectic. It's been an ongoing investigation, and now they are very busy inside here with O.J. Simpson. We expect them to be transporting him from the building he's in now to the Clark County correctional facility downtown in Las Vegas.
And as you were talking about, at that point he will have an opportunity most likely to argue for bail, and he will be able to make bail tonight, I'm told, if indeed there is bail on the table, and he can raise the funds. So if he's got the money, he could get himself out. Otherwise, he will be spending the night in jail here in Las Vegas.
He was arrested earlier today, about 11:00 local time, just after 11:00 at the Palm Hotel and Casino, which is the hotel that he had been staying in all weekend long. And he basically said that he was cooperating with authorities since Thursday night. Thursday night is when this alleged armed robbery took place in Las Vegas, where $75,000 to $100,000 worth of memorabilia were stolen at gunpoint, according to the victims of this, and O.J. Simpson was one of the people in that hotel room during that alleged theft. O.J. has maintained that he did nothing wrong, he was just reclaiming his own materials, his own personal items that had been stolen from him, and that there were no weapons at all involved in this.
Obviously, Las Vegas police believe there were weapons. Two weapons have been confiscated by police, according to a police source, and today O.J. Simpson was taken into custody, the second suspect to be arrested. The first one was arrested last night.
CHO: And more arrests could be coming, Ted, clearly, and we have talked about that all afternoon.
Having said that, if you were reading our lower third, a banner there, you were able to see that according to the Associated Press, police believe O.J. Simpson is going to be facing multiple felony charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon.
For those who are just joining us or who have been dipping in and out of our coverage all afternoon, they may not know, Ted, that you have spoken by phone with Simpson several times, including just 90 minutes before his arrest. What did he tell you late this morning, Las Vegas time?
ROWLANDS: Well, this morning I was talking to O.J. Simpson and asking him to comment on the fact that an arrest had been made, that one of his associates was taken into custody Friday night, on his way apparently to the airport here. I asked O.J. if he knew about that arrest, and he said yes, he had heard that his associate had been arrested, but he didn't know what he was arrested for and he said basically, "I don't know why they would have arrested him." And I said, "do you think that you're next? Do you think that this is coming in the near future? Are you going to be arrested as well?" And he said, "Listen, I've been in contact with Las Vegas police and I have cooperated with the Las Vegas police, and in the end the truth will come out." He seemed to indicate that he didn't seem overly concerned that he would be arrested, because he at that point hadn't had a formal interview. One had been tentatively scheduled for Monday. He and his lawyer were going to sit down with police.
Obviously, after the arrest Friday and the ensuing investigation, police decided to go ahead and arrest Mr. Simpson, because they had enough evidence to do so. And why wait for him, just go ahead and pull the trigger. That's what I would assume. And we should find out more at this news conference, which we're expecting at any minute.
CHO: All right, Ted Rowlands, we are awaiting that news conference, which is expected in the next couple of minutes. I was looking at a live picture just a moment ago. The podium still empty at this point, but we will go to that live.
In the meantime, Ted, I want you to stand by. We've got senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, on the phone.
Jeffrey, since we last talked, we learned from the Associated Press that Simpson faces multiple felony charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon. How serious is this? This could carry some serious prison time as well, right?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It could easily be 10 years in prison with these kinds of charges if he actually does get tried and convicted and this all proceeds to a conclusion.
It's important to remember, this is at a very early stage. Many things could hold the case up. But the Las Vegas police know how high-profile a subject he is, so they wouldn't proceed unless they thought they had something worth prosecuting. So we're proceeding.
CHO: All right. So get out your crystal ball here, Jeffrey. Sorry to do this to you. But I want to know, want to get your perspective on how you see this all playing out in terms of Simpson, a man with great notoriety, getting a fair trial. How do you defend a guy like O.J. Simpson?
TOOBIN: Well, I think the first thing he's got to worry about is getting a lawyer. Then he's got to worry about getting out on bail. Then he has to worry about whether formal charges are actually filed, or whether the case just sort of dribbles away.
CHO: Is that a possibility?
TOOBIN: It is possible, because, you know, this is not the final step in the process. There would have to be either a preliminary hearing or grand jury proceeding. So this is not a guarantee that the case will proceed. I mean, it well may, but there's a long way to go before trial.
Then of course he has to worry about his co-defendants. Will they flip and testify against him? You can be sure that the prosecutors will be most concerned with convicting O.J. Simpson, not his largely unknown co-defendants.
CHO: Jeffrey, stay with us. We want to get back to Pamela Bethel, criminal defense attorney, and also a former federal prosecutor.
So let's talk a little bit more about that point that Jeffrey just made, Pamela, which is that of the suspects, of course two now in custody, possibly four more will be arrested in the coming days. Given that, if Simpson's the big fish, what happens to all the people who are surrounding him? They go against him?
PAMELA BETHEL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, they'll be scrambling. Assuming that they were with him, a lot of those guys are going to try to make a deal. I mean, their lawyers are going to say, look, I don't care what kind of stand-up guy you think you should be, this is not the time to do that. What you need to do is consider what's best for you. And if you were there and if you were part of this, then we need to be the first to run to the prosecutor. It should be a race to the prosecutor.
CHO: Given what you know about what Simpson has said to the media, including many statements he made by phone to our very own Ted Rowlands, if you were defending Simpson, what kind of advice would you give him at this point?
BETHEL: Well, I mean, after I had yelled at him for having said anything, the next advice would be to don't say anything else. I mean, he seems -- how he cannot understand that him being involved with any kind of activity that would include guns, that would include going into someone's room, how that wouldn't be a problem for him, I can't understand that.
CHO: Pamela Bethel, criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, we thank you for joining us from our Washington bureau.
For those of you just joining us, that picture we were just looking at on the screen there to your left, to my left rather, is a live picture of Las Vegas, a police news conference expected in the next couple of minutes.
In the meantime, we want to go to our Ted Rowlands, who is on the ground, joining us by phone in Las Vegas.
Ted, what can you tell us at this point about what will happen in the next few minutes?
ROWLANDS: Well, we are anticipating that O.J. Simpson is going to be leaving the building that he's in now. There's a number of police cars and motorcycles assembled here and some cones put out in what looks to be a situation where they'll be taking him out of this gated area and then transporting him to the Clark County correctional facility in downtown Las Vegas. And at that point, he'll be formally booked.
The building that he's in right now is the police agency, where the detective bureau is that headed this investigation. They brought him in here after the arrest for questioning, but the formal booking process, we're told, will take place at the county jail in downtown Vegas. I don't know if you can see it or not, but behind us here we have a number of police cars and officers awaiting what appears to be a security detail of sorts as they prepare for a possible move of O.J. Simpson.
CHO: And we want to go back to -- Ted, stay with us. We want to go back to our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who is on the line with us from New York.
Jeffrey, let's talk a little bit more about the possibility of O.J. Simpson, who has star power, who is infamous, about defending a man like this. What kind of advice do you give this guy if you are defending him?
TOOBIN: Well, as everyone has said, the first thing he's got to do is shut up, and I assume that will happen promptly.
The interesting question is, if the case goes to trial, how do you defend him? And I think you try to use his fame in his defense. You talk about how the prosecution and the police focused on him to the exclusion of others, or paid attention to a case that was just a simple misunderstanding, as if -- because he was who he is, that they focused on him because of who he is and treated him unfairly because of who he is, rather than treating him like everyone else.
CHO: But Jeffrey, how strong an argument is that? Is that going to carry any weight in the eyes of the jury?
TOOBIN: Well, I don't really know, because we don't know what the evidence is. You know, it may be that the alleged victims of this crime, the people who were in the hotel room, say no, this was just a business dispute, it wasn't a big deal. They may say this was an armed robbery, and they came in and we were afraid for our lives.
I mean, this is what trials and investigations are about. And I wouldn't know how it's going to turn out at this early stage, but you know, that is a tried and true defense of celebrities, that you as the defense say that the prosecution singled them out and treated them unduly harshly because they wanted a prominent scalp on the wall.
CHO: Jeffrey, stay with us because we'll get back to you in a moment, but Ted Rowlands is with us as well. He is in Las Vegas outside the police station, where we can expect perhaps O.J. Simpson will be coming out and greeted by a crush of cameras.
But, Ted, you have been speaking with Simpson by phone over the last several days, including a conversation you had with him just this morning. Take all of those conversations, boil it down. Tell me what he has told you.
ROWLANDS: Well, basically, O.J. Simpson is claiming that he did take part in this. He was there, he orchestrated there. He got wind -- somebody tipped him off -- that some of his personal items -- this is according to O.J. -- were being sold. So he says, all right, tell them they've got a buyer, let's set this up, let's pretend like we're the buyers, we'll go in there and I'm going to get my stuff back. This is stuff that he says was family personal items, including photographs of himself as children, photographs that his ex-wife Nicole took. She was a photographer. He said he wanted to get these personal items back. There was a suit that he allegedly was wearing during the 1992 acquittal in the criminal trial. That was supposedly up for sale. Items he says were stolen from his Rockingham house years ago, 12 years ago, after the verdict in that criminal trial. He wanted them back, so he orchestrated the ruse.
They walked into the hotel room. He says that the alleged victims in this case said, oh, O.J., we're sorry, we're sorry, yes, OK, yes, it's your stuff, go ahead and take it. He says, yeah, I yelled at them, and -- but no one was roughed up and absolutely there were no guns involved.
The alleged victims tell basically the same story, that they thought they were selling this stuff that was valued at $75,000 to $100,000, but instead of a buyer in walks O.J. But before O.J. walked in, they said four men, two of them with weapons drawn, walked in and put them at gunpoint, and then O.J. marched in and screamed at them before taking all of his stuff out of there.
Since Thursday night when this was reported, Las Vegas police have been doing an investigation using video surveillance tape, talking to witnesses, and then today this -- late this morning at the Palms Hotel and Casino, about seven detectives walked through the Palms lobby, casino area, went up to O.J. Simpson's room, and put him under arrest, took him out in handcuffs through a service elevator and took him to this building here. You can see the door in the back here. This is where we're expecting him to be transported from, and will be leaving here. When they're finished here, he'll go downtown to be formally booked.
CHO: And, Ted, important to note that when you spoke to Simpson this morning, though he has been questioned by police, he had no inkling that this was going to happen, did it? Did he?
ROWLANDS: He didn't seem to. I talked to him about 90 minutes before he was arrested at the Palms, and I asked him to comment on the arrest of his associate. O.J.'s the second arrest in this case. The first arrest came Friday night. One of his associates, one of the men allegedly who was in that room, was arrested on his way, apparently, to the McCarran Las Vegas airport. Residents of Arizona. He was booked and charged last night, and he is facing multiple felony charges, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. We're talking about armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Let's be clear that nobody involved in this says that O.J. ever was carrying a gun. This associate apparently was one of the ones who was carrying the gun. And also according to a source within the Las Vegas Police Department that knows about this investigation, they've recovered two of those weapons that they believe were involved in this robbery.
But when I talked to O.J., he didn't seem to think that anything was going to happen to him. He said, "I don't know why they arrested this guy. In the end, the truth will come out." But he just didn't seem like a guy that was 90 minutes away from being put in handcuffs.
CHO: Hmm. Interesting. CNN's Ted Rowlands, doing some great reporting for us out in Las Vegas. Ted, thank you.
And stay with us. We've also got Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN senior legal analyst with us. He is on the phone from New York, watching the events very closely. We are awaiting a news conference out of Las Vegas in light of the latest development, which is that O.J. Simpson is under arrest in connection with an armed robbery at a Las Vegas casino hotel related to sports memorabilia that Simpson says was rightfully his. We have much more on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
CHO: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta, watching this breaking news for you out of Las Vegas.
O.J. Simpson under arrest. That's the headline. Simpson's arrest is related to an alleged armed robbery involving sports memorabilia. It happened Thursday night at the Palace Station casino and hotel in Las Vegas. And if you haven't been following this story very closely, CNN's Brian Todd has a recap of the events that led up to today.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The alleged victim, a sports memorabilia collector, says former NFL star O.J. Simpson and several other men took some items from him Thursday night in a room at the Palace Station hotel. He described the incident to tmz.com.
ALFRED BEARDSLEY, ALLEGED VICTIM: A guy was directed at gunpoint 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 website quotes Beardsley, saying the group pretended to be customers interested in buying the suit Simpson wore when he was acquitted in 1995 of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend.
Simpson told the Associated Press, quote, "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 implies that someone else had a gun.
THOMAS RICCIO, SIMPSON ASSOCIATE: O.J. came in, did not break in, trying to get his stuff back. He did not have any gun. 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: So that's a recap of how we got here. For what we can expect going forward, we're going to turn to our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, also author of the best-selling book "The Run of His Life: The People Versus O.J. Simpson."
Given what you know about this man, how do you defend a guy like O.J. Simpson? How does he get a fair trial? And what can we expect, Jeffrey, in the next 48 hours or so?
TOOBIN: Well, your last question is the easiest one, because the rest of it is awfully complicated.
I mean, what we can expect is the formal filing of charges, the assignment of a lawyer, or presumably O.J. will get one himself, and then there will be an arraignment where he'll try to get out on bail.
I don't know if Las Vegas has Sunday arraignments. Most places don't. So I expect he may spend a night in jail. But if he doesn't, he will have some sort of bail arrangement, and then we'll begin to see how many defendants there are, what the charges are, and presumably the defense will be something along the lines of this was simply an ordinary business dispute over custody and control of some memorabilia that O.J. had a legitimate claim to, and the prosecution is turning this into a felony when it was a simple misunderstanding. CHO: Well, he is under arrest, as we mentioned, charges pending. The Associated Press is reporting that he faces multiple felony charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon. But you aptly pointed out a bit earlier, Jeffrey, that it is possible that all of this could go away, right?
TOOBIN: Right. And I have to confess, I'm not totally up to date on Nevada criminal procedure. But I expect I will be shortly. And there is always an intermediate step before a trial, either a grand jury or a preliminary hearing, where charges can be narrowed, or dropped altogether, or expanded. And during that process, his lawyers will certainly argue to the prosecutors that this is not something that deserves all those charges to be filed; it was simply a misunderstanding, and therefore the charges should be dropped. I don't know if that's going to happen, but that's certainly what his lawyers will argue.
CHO: Now, given what you know about legal proceedings and police investigations, didn't you say a bit earlier, Jeffrey, that you were surprised that there was an arrest of O.J. Simpson this early on in the investigation?
TOOBIN: Right. Because one of the risks you always have if you're the police or the prosecutor is that you bring a case before you have all your ducks lined up in a row, and there turns out to be evidence helpful to the defense that you have not found.
Here you have a situation where you have a very famous would-be defendant. He can't very well disappear. He's not going to flee with Al Cowlings in a white Bronco again. We think that's probably unlikely. So why not wait a little longer until the investigation is complete and you're absolutely sure that you have an unbeatable case?
They chose to bring the case after only, you know, a little more than two days since the crime. Now, it may be that they have an open- and-shut case, and they're not bringing it prematurely. This is pretty fast in my book.
CHO: Jeffrey, I want to interrupt you for one minute, because we're just getting some news into CNN. White House not confirming this, but the Associated Press is reporting that President Bush has settled on Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, to replace attorney general -- outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Your thoughts on that?
TOOBIN: He's a very respected federal judge. He served for 18 years. He was an appointee of Ronald Reagan. He presided over one of the most important terrorism trials, the blind sheik, Sheik Abdul Rahman trial.
But he is a non-political figure, and it shows that the president could not get through people who are more ideologically in tune with him. People like Ted Olson or Michael Chertoff would simply have not been confirmed in the United States Senate, and this is a appointment of a weakened president. CHO: Jeffrey, we've got to go. We've got to get a quick break in. We're watching the O.J. case and this attorney general case very closely. We're back after this. Stay with us.
CHO: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta, watching some breaking news for you.
The headline -- O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an alleged armed robber robbery at a hotel casino involving sports memorabilia. Simpson saying that it was his property, he was just taking back what was rightfully his.
We are also watching another breaking news story while we await a news conference by Las Vegas authorities. Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here.
Jeffrey, before the break, we were saying that according to the Associated Press, President Bush had settled on a retired federal judge from New York, Michael Mukasey, to replace outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. You know Mukasey very well.
What is your reaction to this, given the fact that some other well-known named were out there, like former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff? Is it because his name isn't as well known that perhaps President Bush settled on him? An announcement, we should mention, is expected on Monday. But your reaction to this, Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Well, it is not just that he is less well known. He is less political. Look at President Bush's first two attorney generals -- John Ashcroft, highly conservative, very ideological, former senator from Missouri. Alberto Gonzales, one of the president's longest, closest allies, politically indistinguishable from the president.
Then Michael Mukasey. No prior relationship with George W. Bush. By all accounts, a moderate Republican from New York state, someone who has been endorsed for this job and for the Supreme Court by Chuck Schumer, the liberal Democrat of New York.
This is what the Bush presidency is reduced to, which is currying favor with Democratic senators. Because Democrats now control the Senate, they vowed to stop Ted Olson, and President Bush didn't feel like he could pick a fight.
CHO: We should mention that the White House is not confirming or commenting on this to CNN. But given that the Associated Press is reporting that President Bush will make the announcement tomorrow, that he has settled on Michael Mukasey, the retired federal judge -- but, Jeffrey, if we could talk a bit more about this, because Mukasey is actually liked by liberals, even though he was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan more than 20 years ago, right?
TOOBIN: He has a very non-ideological profile. He was by all accounts a down-the-middle, highly respected federal judge in New York. That is not a position where people tend to take political stands on issues.
The judge presided over a very high-profile, important terrorism case, the case of the blind sheik, Sheik Abdul Rahman, in the -- during the Clinton -- when Clinton was president.
So it is not a position where we know where Judge Mukasey stands on issues like abortion and affirmative action. Those are simply not the kind of issues he would be called upon to take a stand on. But...
CHO: And that's a good thing, right? In terms of being confirmed.
TOOBIN: It's a good thing in terms of being confirmed, but it shows that President Bush no longer has the political juice to get his allies through the United States Senate.
CHO: All right. Stand by, Jeffrey Toobin, because we want to get your thoughts on the other big story we are watching today, which is that O.J. Simpson is under arrest, in police custody in Las Vegas.
We want to go straight to Ted Rowlands, who is in Las Vegas.
He's been speaking with Simpson over the last several days, including a conversation he had with him this morning. Ted, bring us up to date on what you know right now.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now O.J. Simpson is still in this building behind us. We are expecting him to be moved at any moment to the Clark County Correctional facility in downtown Las Vegas. He was brought here after he was arrested in his hotel room in Vegas this morning. Late this morning at the Palms Hotel and Casino.
This comes after an investigation which started Thursday night into what happened in that hotel room where there was an alleged armed robbery. O.J. Simpson, according to the victims, the alleged victims in this case, was one of five guys that went into a hotel room and stole merchandise at gunpoint.
O.J. Simpson throughout this has denied that there were guns involved, that any physical altercations ensued, or took place pep said, quote "Nobody was ever roughed up." He has maintained that yes, he took his stuff but it was his stuff. Police have been investigating this since Thursday.
They made the first arrest in this case last night with one of the men that O.J. Simpson allegedly went into the hotel room with. He was arrested on his way to McCarron the Las Vegas airport. According to a police source. According to a police source, they have also recovered two weapons that they believe were used in this alleged armed robbery.
We're awaiting a news conference any minute inside this building to give us the latest in terms of the investigation, and we are also awaiting the departure from this building, most likely through this door behind me, of O.J. Simpson as he is transferred to the next step in the legal process.
CHO: Ted, we've been spending a lot of time talking about your conversations with Simpson, but I think it bears repeating for those people who are just joining us that you have also spoken to the alleged victim, or victims in this case, and what do they tell you about what happened in that hotel casino room on Thursday night?
ROWLANDS: Well, Bruce Fromong, one of the alleged victims, is very clear in what he says happened. He says that he was awaiting a buyer for memorabilia he had for sale and was not expecting O.J. Simpson to come through the door. He said what happened was he thought it was just going to be a deal made in a hotel room, which alone is a bit shady, but he says it was legal.
What happened was four men he said barreled into the room. The second man, he said, had a gun pointed at him. And he said the last man in was O.J. Simpson and O.J. was screaming and barking out orders, saying that's mine, that's mine, that's mine. they loaded up the stuff, according to Fromong, and left in about five minutes' time, and they called police.
They knew O.J. Simpson before. They had a relationship with him throughout the years in the memorabilia business. In fact, Simpson knew them, and at one point apparently said that he was very disappointed in those guys for taking his stuff before he left. The big issue here, were there guns involved?
Las Vegas police apparently have two guns that they believe were involved, according to a source with this investigation. O.J. claims that he knew nothing about guns, didn't see any guns at all.
CHO: All right, Ted, I want you to stay with us. It looks like there's some activity going on at the police podium there. We are awaiting a news conference. In the meantime, we want to go to Fred Goldman, the father of Ronald Goldman, on the phone from Phoenix, Arizona. Of course, Ron Goldman slain, and Simpson found liable in a civil case for his murder.
Mr. Goldman, I just want to get your reaction to the news of Simpson's arrest.
FRED GOLDMAN, RON GOLDMAN'S FATHER: Well, I guess the obvious answer for me anyway is outstanding. Finally, he's been arrested for something that maybe if we're all lucky, certainly if I'm lucky, he'll go to jail for. Unfortunately, it's not for murder, though.
CHO: I'm just curious, what you make of the fact that Simpson has not been shy about talking to the media in these last couple of days, particularly to our very own Ted Rowlands. Spoke to him just 90 minutes before his arrest. Why do you think he spent so much time talking to reporters in the past several days, when there is an active police investigation underway?
GOLDMAN: I think that the answer is simple. I mean, he does the exact same thing in his book. He reminds everybody that he's the one that's in charge. He controls the world. He's the puppeteer. And everybody has to answer to him. Someone the other day referred to him as someone who thinks he's godlike.
He can do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and he's trying to prove it. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't think he's a god. The vast majority of the people believe him to be a murderer. And now they can believe him to be a thief.
CHO: Well, this is a bittersweet moment in a sense because of course this all coincides with the publication of the book if I did it. of course, a bankruptcy judge awarded you the rights to that book. You will get the proceeds. Some have charged, with all due respect, that this is blood money. What is your response to that?
GOLDMAN: Well, when the killer earned his money, that's blood money. We have a judgment, and it's the only way that we can punish him. We took away his rights. He's no longer making the money. And it's a judgment, and that's the only way that we get any measure of justice, is through the judgment.
CHO: I'm curious s how much of that 33-plus million dollars have you since recovered, since that verdict some years ago?
GOLDMAN: Well, the original judgment for us was $19 million. It's grown to almost $40 million. He has not ever willingly paid one single penny. We've gotten I think somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000 or $7,000 maybe, and most of -- all of that, as a matter of fact, are things that we've managed to garner on taking away from him. He's never willingly paid a penny, and he's vowed not to.
CHO: What do you make of Simpson -- first of all, we spoke about him talking to reporters and speaking out. But I'm just curious what you make of the events that have transpired since Thursday night, you know, by the accounts of the alleged victims, guns blazing, members of Simpson's entourage carrying those guns, coming in?
Simpson yelling, screaming, that's mine, that's mine, that's mine. He says that that sports memorabilia was his property to begin with, and he was simply taking back what was rightfully his. What do you make of that?
GOLDMAN: Well, like I said before, he thinks he can do anything. Now, if he were really legit, he would have called the police and said there's merchandise in such and such a place, I state it to be mine, and I want it confiscated and I want to bring charges. But he doesn't do that.
He doesn't operate that way. He just goes and does and believes he lives by another set of rules different from the rest of us.
CHO: Fred Goldman, father of Ron Goldman, on the phone with us from Phoenix, Arizona. We thank you for joining us. If you can, we're going to ask you to stay with us. I'm not sure if that's possible. But we hope you can.
In the meantime, we are awaiting a news conference by Las Vegas police on the news today, late this afternoon, that O.J. Simpson was taken into police custody in connection with an armed robbery at a hotel casino involving sports memorabilia. Again, we are awaiting a news conference that was supposed to begin at the top of the hour, running a bit late. But we'll have much more on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
CHO: Hi, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For those of you just joining us, we want to bring you up to date on a breaking news story that we have been following all afternoon here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.
The news that O.J. Simpson, the ex-football star, is now in police custody under suspicion, and now under arrest in connection with an alleged armed robbery at a hotel casino in Vegas, involving sports memorabilia that Simpson says, was rightfully his.
We've got Pamela Bethel, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, in Washington, D.C. But first we want to go to Jeffrey Toobin, our Senior Legal Analyst, also the author of the best- selling book, "The Run of His Life: The People Versus O.J. Simpson."
Jeffrey, the easy question first, the procedural one, what can we expect in the next 48 hours?
TOOBIN: Well, the most important thing is an arraignment where a judge or a magistrate will set bail. And that is the way O.J. Simpson will try to get out of jail before he is -- before he's charged officially and before there's a trial. He's got to get a lawyer. He's got to put up bail of some kind, whether it's cash or property. That's the initial stage and certainly the most important for him because it gets him out of jail.
CHO: Pamela, I want to get to you, I'm just wondering how you see this all playing out. You are a former federal prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. You see there could be as many as four outstanding arrests. We've got two people in custody, including Simpson. How do you see this playing out if Simpson is indeed the big fish, do the other people sort of fall around him, admit to lesser charges in order to get the big fish, who is Simpson?
PAMELA BETHEL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. It's what you would call a rush to the prosecutor. If I were the defense lawyer for either of the other people who were involved with this, I would be trying to get to the prosecutor with as much detail, and be as helpful as possible as soon as possible.
The old adage, the one who gets there first gets the best deal. So I would be doing that, and I can only imagine that their attorneys are making that recommendation to them.
CHO: We should mention that according to the Associated Press police say O.J. Simpson faces multiple felony charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon. Given that, Jeffrey, I'm just wondering if you're defending Simpson what do you tell him? What kind of advice do you give him at this point? TOOBIN: Well, the first thing you tell him is to shut the heck up, stop to talking to Ted Rowlands and any other reporter who's been calling him. I think it's great for Ted and for CNN, and for our audience that Ted has been able to talk to O.J. Today, just hours before he was arrested. But it's a disastrous legal strategy. So that's the first thing you tell him.
The second thing is try to start accumulating evidence to show that what went on in this hotel room was a good faith business dispute over property whose ownership was unclear rather than an armed robbery.
CHO: I'm just curious, Jeffrey, because you talk about him shutting up and not speaking to the media going forward. There have already been some conflicting statements including, as you well know, Simpson initially told Ted Rowlands that there were no guns involved in this incident. It turns out that two firearms were confiscated, were seized by police.
By all accounts Simpson was not carrying those firearms, but having said that, he could be in a lot of trouble. Later he apparently told Ted, well, maybe there were guns involved. Now, is this admissible in court?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. Whatever he said to a reporter is admissible. And --
CHO: That's a problem.
TOOBIN: It is definitely a problem. And that's why the first thing lawyers say is don't say anything to reporters or anyone else. The -- so getting his story straight about what he knew about whether anyone would be bringing weapons is critical. It's a critical issue in the case. Because he is not off the hook for armed robbery if he is the one -- if he didn't carry the gun.
If he said to a colleague, look, you pull the gun and I'll take the stuff, that is -- he is as guilty as armed robbery -- of armed robbery as if he carried the gun himself.
CHO: Right. Because he's a participant. In fact, I'm looking at some notes here from B.J. Bernstein, who was with us a bit earlier, criminal defense attorney, who said that robbery carries a possible sentence of two to 15 years, armed robbery you're looking at four to 30 years.
So suddenly you add armed to the beginning of the robbery charge, and you've got a much more serious situation here. Given that we want to turn to Ted Rowlands now, who is on the ground in Las Vegas, Ted, you've been speaking with Simpson over the last several days. What has he been telling you? And given what everyone has said and weighed in on here, what are your thoughts?
ROWLANDS: Well, I've talked to him extensively over the past few days, and to be clear, he said that he never saw guns, period. Every time I've talked to him he's been emphatic. When I first talked to him, he said there were no guns involved, period.
Then he said a few days later after he had talked to a couple of people that were in the room, he said you know what, I did talk to a friend of mine who said, hey, O.J. there was a gun but you may not have seen it, it was just being held inside someone's coat or something to that effect.
He basically has maintained that he never saw or had knowledge of any guns involved at all, period. If there were guns in there, his story is he didn't know it and he didn't see it and he never would have allowed any guns in there or he wouldn't have been around if there were guns. That's what he told me, just to be clear.
He didn't really waffle on that fact. He's been clear and maintained that throughout this -- throughout our conversations.
CHO: All right, Ted --
ROWLANDS: All in all -- go ahead.
CHO: I was going to say, I wanted you to stand by because I wanted Jeffrey Toobin to weigh in on this as we await a news conference by Las Vegas authorities on o.j. Simpson's arrest. Jeffrey, just wondering. So some clarification here by Ted. He at first said no guns, then he never saw any guns. Does this hold up in court, do you think?
TOOBIN: Well, that's what he said to Ted. And you know, that is -- that may be his story now. But he also spoke to Linda Deutsche of the Associated Press, he also spoke to the L.A. Times. But we don't know exactly what he said, and whether those stories are inconsistent, and whether they're true. I mean, they may be inconsistent with what his conversations were with his soon to be co-defendants.
CHO: And Ted, if we could go back to you for just a moment, to be clear, a lot of people have been wondering why O.J. Simpson, given his legal history, why he would speak out to reporters. I mean, he basically made clear to you he didn't think he did anything wrong, right?
ROWLANDS: Yes, he was trying to clear his name. I mean, he was seeing these reports about what had happened, and he basically, at least from his standpoint, was saying, well, everybody's misconstruing this, you have it all wrong. And I honestly believe that in his mind frame he doesn't think going into someone's hotel room and taking stuff out is wrong.
Because his theory is, well, it's stolen stuff, it's mine. In fact, he said, what would you do if you had family photos in a hotel room? Wouldn't you go do the same thing? Wouldn't anybody do that kind of thing? So I think that he genuinely thinks that getting back his stuff the way he did it wasn't going to be a problem. Obviously, Las Vegas police disagree with that.
CHO: We are awaiting that news conference. I believe they're doing a microphone check there at the police headquarters where they will be holding that news conference, presumably to detail more about O.J. Simpson's arrest. But in the meantime, and we may have to break in, Ted, but in the meantime you did speak to the alleged victim as well. What did he say about what happened, because clearly there's another side to this?
ROWLANDS: Yes. The alleged victim, who says he's known O.J. for years, called him a friend, actually, said that O.J. came in and these guys with him had guns, O.J. never had a gun but he was sort of running the show. And, that he demanded to take all the stuff and this guy, Bruce Fromong, says that some of his stuff that had nothing to do with O.J. was taken.
I talked to O.J. about that. He said you're right, I -- we did take some stuff that didn't belong to me, and I'm trying to get it back to Bruce, I'm trying to get all that stuff back. The bottom line here is that legally this isn't the way you go get your stuff, and if there were guns involved he's in trouble.
Bruce Fromong sticking by his story. Even though he's a former friend. The other alleged victim, Al Beardsley, now seems to be waffling and saying that he may not want to press charges, because he doesn't want -- he says it's been blown out of proportion. So it is murky.
And while it seems concrete here, police think they have a case, if you fast forward, and I'm sure Jeffrey would agree with me, these witnesses possibly dealing in stolen stuff at a back hotel room off the strip are going to be a bit shaky on the stand. So in front of a jury, you know, we're a long way from that, but this case could have a lot more to it than first meets the eye in terms of them actually getting a conviction.
CHO: All right, Ted Rowlands, stand by for us. A lot of commotion going on behind you at the Las Vegas police headquarters. As we await a news conference by Las Vegas police on the arrest this afternoon of O.J. Simpson. We've also got our Senior Legal Analyst, Jeffrey Toobin and Pamela Bethel in our Washington bureau.
She is a criminal defense attorney and a former federal prosecutor. All of that on the other side of the break. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
CHO: Hi, everybody. I'm Alina Cho at the CNN Center in Atlanta, watching some breaking news for you all afternoon. The headline being O.J. Simpson under arrest in Las Vegas in connection with an alleged armed robbery at a hotel casino. Our man on the ground is CNN's Ted Rowlands, who has been speaking with Simpson over the past several days, including a conversation he had with him just 90 minutes before his arrest.
What can we expect in the next couple minutes as we await a news conference, and all that commotion going on around you, Ted, what will happen just afterwards? ROWLANDS: Well, we assume that O.J. Simpson's going to come out this door. He has to be processed at another facility he's being questioned in here or he is being detained in here. He's going to be taken to the Clark County Detention Center in downtown Las Vegas. Obviously the media is out here in full force because it is O.J. Simpson.
We expect him to leave out of this door behind us and be transported. We also expect that news conference going on also in this building on the second floor. O.j. Simpson, the bottom line here, is facing some very serious charges. According to the A.P., he's facing armed robbery charges, conspiracy to armed robbery charges.
These could carry potential long prison sentences if convicted down the road. So, it's a very serious situation for O.J. Simpson after what he has characterized as it being a misunderstanding. Clearly, he is in hot water now. Whether or not he'll be able to make bail or not remains to be seen.
If he has the money, we are told that the facilities will be here, despite it being a Sunday night. It's 24-hour operation. People can be bailed out at any time on any day of the week. So he may or may not have to spend a night in jail. He may not have a bail option, depending on what prosecutors are going to argue. That remains to be seen.
But what we're expecting in the short term is a news conference with the latest information on this investigation, and the transport of O.J. Simpson from this facility to the downtown jail here in Las Vegas.
CHO: All right. And just to recap for our viewers, we're going to go to the news conference right now. Let's listen in.
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CAPT. JAMES DILLON, LAS VEGAS METRO POLICE: Detectives received an anonymous information regarding that one of the possible suspects involved in the armed robbery was headed to the airport. Detectives responded, made contact with that individual, and he agreed to give us a statement and cooperate. That subject was identified as Walter Alexander, 46 years old, from Mesa, Arizona.
At the conclusion of the interview Mr. Alexander was arrested on numerous charges. Those charges included conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, and burglary with a deadly weapon. The information that was received from that interview led us to prepare and execute three search warrants.
As a result of the service of those search warrants, much evidence was collected, including in the seizure of that evidence was two firearms which we believed to be the two firearms which were used in the armed robbery. In addition to property that was reported stolen, along with clothing that was worn by some of the robbery suspects.
This morning after a careful review of all that information the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department decided to effect the arrest of O.J. Simpson. In consultation with David Roger, the Clark County District Attorney, robbery detectives were dispatched to the hotel where Mr. Simpson was staying. He was taken into custody. He cooperated. And it was without incident.
He immediately invoked his rights to have an attorney with him, and he was transported to the robbery section, where he is here at this time. He will be shortly transported to the Clark County Detention Center, where he will be booked on the following charges; robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts. Assault with a deadly weapon, two counts. Conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm.
We've identified some of the other individuals that were involved in this crime, and currently, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is looking for Clarence Stewart, Michael McClinton, Tom Scotty, and also another unidentified individual, a white male adult. We will be shortly releasing, after Mr. Simpson is booked, his booking photo.
Mr. Alexander had already been booked, and his photo is available and will be distributed. We're asking for the media's support while the detectives -- this investigation is still dynamic and still ongoing. We have a lot of work to do. We -- I have lieutenant Clint Nichols, the section lieutenant here, who has more information on the details. I will bring him up at this time to answer some questions regarding the particulars of the crime. Nick?
QUESTION: Captain, before you do that can you talk about the bail? Is there going to be bail?
DILLON: Yes. The process from this point for Mr. Simpson is that he will be transported and booked in the Clark County Detention Center. We also have a lieutenant from our jail here who can also ask -- answer these questions in greater detail. There will be an assessment based on the charges.
That bail amount will be determined. And should Mr. Simpson be able to make the bail, he can make the bail and then will have to return in 48 hours for the arraignment.
QUESTION: More than likely he will not be posting any bail today and getting out today?
DILLON: I do not know that.
QUESTION: Captain, can you tell us where the guns were found, where you retrieved them from?
DILLON: The location of where the search warrants were served is being kept secret at this time. We had the search warrants sealed because of the dynamics of the investigation. But I'd like to let Lieutenant Nichols explain that in greater detail. Nick? LT. CLINT NICHOLS: Thank you. As the captain mentioned, I'll be limited in what I can discuss because we still are conducting an open investigation, and we do not have every person involved that had something to do with it. I'll try to provide as much details as possible, but bear with me because we do have an active investigation, it could take a little bit of time.
And somebody had a question in reference to firearms. Could you repeat that, please?
QUESTION: Yes. I asked if you could tell us where the firearms were retrieved from, and the clothings were that you mentioned?
NICHOLS: I can't mention specifically where they were retrieved, but they were retrieved during one of the three search warrants that we prepared and executed early this morning.
QUESTION: Lieutenant base on the charges, you filed against O.J., is it likely to conclude that he actually was armed when he went into that room?
NICHOLS: We don't have any information that would lead to believe us that he was armed, even based on those charges.
QUESTION: Let me ask, number one, where did the firearms come from? In other words is there any potential federal charges that could be pending here? Did they come from out of state into Las Vegas? Do we know if the feds are involved in this investigation at all?
NICHOLS: At this point, they are not involved, and I can't -- discuss any of the relevance of the firearms because of the information in the search warrant.
QUESTION: Lieutenant, these four guys that you gave the names Clarence Stewart, Michael McClinton and Tom Scotty, where these the guys who went into the room with O.J.?
NICHOLS: That is correct.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) names right?
NICHOLS: I'm sorry? Yes, we'll provide that information to you.
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