Former football star OJ Simpson has been held without bail, accused of stealing back his own sports souvenirs in what was reported to be an expletive-laced face-off with memorabilia dealers.
Simpson, 60, who was acquitted in 1995 of the murder of his ex-wife and her friend, was arrested, taken away in handcuff and held without bail yesterday on suspicion of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and burglary, Las Vegas police said. If convicted on all charges, Simpson could face some three decades behind bars.
An audiotape of last week's incident in a Las Vegas hotel that reportedly was made by one memorabilia collector was released today by the celebrity Web site TMZ.com.
In the expletive-filled recording, a man said to be Simpson is heard saying: "Don't let nobody out of this room ... Think you can steal my shit and sell it?"
Unconfirmed media reports today said lawyers for Simpson were preparing to go to court to try to get the former NFL star swiftly released on bail.
Las Vegas police have arrested another man they believe was with Simpson during the incident and said they were searching for four others.
Simpson has told reporters he did nothing wrong and was merely trying to retrieve his own collectibles, personal photos, his Hall of Fame certificate and other items he said had been stolen by a former sports agent.
A second sports collector, Bruce Fromong, who was in the hotel room during the incident, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Simpson never held a gun but that some of his cohorts did. The weapon charge was filed against Simpson apparently because his associates were armed.
"The door burst open, and in came, running in, almost commando-style, OJ Simpson and some of his people, with guns drawn," Fromong said. "And OJ at that time was saying, 'I want my stuff. I want my stuff.'
"The thing in my mind as soon as I saw him, I'm thinking, 'OJ, how can you be this dumb?'" Fromong said. "He didn't need to be there."
Simpson was a record-setting running back in the National Football League and later parlayed that fame into a career in movies and television before the sensational 1995 murder trial.
After he was acquitted of murdering former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, a civil court jury found Simpson responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay $US33.5 million in damages to their families.
Simpson's arrest in Las Vegas came as his book If I Did It, which includes a hypothetical account of his ex-wife's murder, was hitting store shelves. The book is No. 2 on Amazon.com's best-seller list.