September 17, 2014

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Man allegedly assailed by O.J. wants case dropped

LAS VEGAS — A sports memorabilia collector who accused O.J. Simpson of armed robbery said Saturday that he was "on O.J.’s side" and wants the case dropped.

"I want this thing to go away. I have health problems," said Alfred Beardsley, the collector who told police on Thursday that Simpson and several other men stormed a Las Vegas hotel room and stole memorabilia at gunpoint.

TMZ.com via AP
Beardsley

Beardsley, of Burbank, Calif., told The Associated Press he is not interested in pursuing the case.

"I have no desire to fly back and forth to Las Vegas to testify," he said. "How are they going to have a witness who’s on O.J.’s side?"

Beardsley said he called police only because the items were valuable and if he had not reported them as stolen he would be "held accountable for all the stuff." Beardsley said Friday that Simpson had called him to apologize.

Lt. Clint Nichols said later Saturday that Beardsley had not formally withdrawn his complaint and that another collector in the room, Bruce Fromong, had not indicated that he wants to drop the complaint.

Earlier, Las Vegas police said they were questioning one of the three or four men who were thought to have accompanied Simpson to the hotel room. No arrests had been made and police were still trying to determine what took place before Simpson left the room with memorabilia he says was stolen from him, Nichols said. Police think a weapon was involved and want to review hotel surveillance tapes.

Simpson told The Associated Press on Saturday that he did he did not even consider calling the police to help reclaim personal items he believed were stolen from him, because he has found the police unresponsive when he needed help ever since his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, were killed in 1994.

"The police, since my trouble, have not worked out for me," he said, noting that whenever he has called the police "It just becomes a story about O.J."

"I’m at the point where I don’t rely on the police and this is not a police issue anyway," he said, expressing hope that it will soon be resolved.

Simpson, 60, said he was just trying to retrieve memorabilia, particularly photos of his wife and children. There were no guns and no break-in, he said.

As police try to determine what happened in the hotel room, they must unravel the contorted relationships between the erstwhile athlete and a cadre of collectors that has profited from his infamy since the slayings of his ex-wife and Goldman. He was acquitted of murder in 1995, but was found liable for their deaths in a civil case.

Fromong considered Simpson a close friend. Beardsley had collected Simpson items for years.

On Saturday, Simpson declared: "None of these guys are friends of mine."

Attempts by the AP to reach Fromong on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Simpson, who lives in Miami, said he expected to find the stolen items when he went to an arranged meeting Thursday.

The man who arranged the meeting, according to Simpson, was another man who makes a living on the fringes of the celebrity.

Thomas Riccio, a well-known memorabilia dealer, made headlines when his auction house, Corona, Calif.-based Universal Rarities, handled the eBay auction of Anna Nicole Smith’s handwritten diaries.

Simpson said Riccio called him several weeks ago to inform him that people "have a lot of your stuff and they don’t want anyone to know they are selling it," Simpson said.

Along with the personal photos, Simpson expected to find one item in particular: the suit he was wearing when he was acquitted of murder.

It’s not clear where they got the suit, but Beardsley, a former real estate agent and longtime Simpson collector, and Fromong had been trying to sell it for several months. They’d recently tried eBay and the celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com.

Simpson said Beardsley and Fromong were attempting to profit off personal items including the wedding video from his first marriage.

In an interview with TMZ.com, Beardsley noted that during the alleged robbery in the hotel room Simpson appeared surprised the pair were the ones selling the items.

"Simpson was saying that ‘I liked you, I thought you were a good guy,’" Beardsley said.

Simpson accused Mike Gilbert, a one-time associate, of stealing the items from him. He said he believes Gilbert stole items from a storage locker once held in Simpson’s mother’s name.

Attempts to reach Gilbert by phone were unsuccessful.

As Simpson’s licensing agent in the late 1990s, Gilbert admitted snatching Simpson’s Heisman Trophy and other items from his client’s Brentwood home as payment for money he said was owed to him. He later turned the items over to authorities, save the trophy’s nameplate.

Gilbert swore he’d go to jail before turning the nameplate over to the Goldman family, which was trying to collect on the $33.5 million civil judgment it won against Simpson. Gilbert later surrendered it under court order.

As questions swirled around the curious cast of characters and their mysterious meeting, media scrutiny and public interest that has dogged the fallen athlete was in full swing.

By Saturday afternoon, Simpson’s new book, "If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer," was the top seller on Amazon.com.

None of the men will profit from the book’s sales. After a deal for Simpson to publish it fell through, a federal bankruptcy judge awarded the book’s rights to the Goldman family.