A judge set bail Wednesday at $125,000 for O.J. Simpson in connection with the armed robbery of sports memorabilia collectors at a Las Vegas hotel. His attorney later said he expected the former football star to be released within hours and return to Florida.
Simpson, standing in court in a blue jail uniform and handcuffs, furrowed his brow as the judge read the list of charges against him.
He answered quietly in a hoarse voice and nodded as Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure Jr. laid out restrictions for his release, including surrendering his passport to his attorney and having no contact with co-defendants or potential witnesses. Simpson did not enter a plea.
Unlike his arraignment over a decade ago in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman, when Simpson declared he was “absolutely 100 percent not guilty,” he was subdued throughout the proceeding Wednesday.
“Mr. Simpson do you understand the charges against you?” the judge asked. “Yes, sir,” Simpson responded.
Attorney Yale Galanter said after the hearing that the $125,000 bond was reasonable and had already been arranged for Simpson. He said Simpson would plead not guilty. “We expect Mr. Simpson to be processed and released fairly quickly,” Galanter said. “He’s relieved. This has been a very harrowing experience for him.”
Security at the courthouse was tight for the arraignment hearing. People entering the courtroom were screened by security officers and Las Vegas police with bomb sniffing dogs. The case has attracted a swarm of media, including Marcia Clark, who unsuccessfully prosecuted Simpson for the 1994 murders and was reporting for “Entertainment Tonight.”
Simpson, 60, was arrested Sunday after a collector reported a group of armed men charged into his hotel room at the Palace Station casino and took several items that Simpson claimed belonged to him. He has been held since then in protective custody in a 7-foot-by-14-foot cell.
The Heisman Trophy winner was charged with kidnapping, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, coercion with use of a deadly weapon, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit a crime. “These are very serious charges,” Galanter said. “He is taking it very seriously.”
Authorities allege that the men went to the room on the pretext of brokering a deal with two longtime collectors, Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong. According to police reports, the collectors were ordered at gunpoint to hand over several items valued at as much as $100,000.
Beardsley told police that one of the men with Simpson brandished a pistol, frisked him and impersonated a police officer, and that another man pointed a gun at Fromong. “I’m a cop and you’re lucky this ain’t LA or you’d be dead,” the man said, according to the report.
“One of the thugs, that’s the best thing I can call them, somebody blurted out ‘police!’ and they came in military style,” Beardsley said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “I thought it might have been law enforcement or the FBI or something because I was ordered to stand up, and I was frisked for weapons.”
“At no time did Mr. Simpson hold any type of firearm at all,” he said.