Cops Eye O.J. In Memorabilia Rip-Off

O.J. Simpson talks to spectators while watching the morning workouts for the 2007 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, May 3, 2007. The 133rd Kentucky Derby will be held on Saturday, May 5th. (AP Photo/Rob Carr) AP Photo/Rob Carr

Investigators questioned O.J. Simpson and named him a suspect Friday in a confrontation involving sports memorabilia in a casino hotel room. The former football star said he went to the room to retrieve property that was stolen from him, and denied breaking in.

Several victims claim a group which included Simpson broke into their hotel room and stole some sports memorabilia. A short time later, Las Vegas investigators picked up and questioned the notorious former football star. Reports say he told police the items were his, reports CBS News correspondent Karen Brown.

In a press conference, Las Vegas Metro Police Capt. James Dillon said the confrontation was reported as an armed robbery, but stressed that "this is very preliminary." He said the victim reported that weapons were involved, but the police have not recovered any weapons or determined what they could be.

In addition, Dillon said the police have some still images and video to use as evidence, but cannot yet say what has been captured.

"We truly are in the infancy of this investigation," he told reporters.

Dillon said police expect to interview Simpson more fully within the next 24 to 72 hours. The former Buffalo Bills running back was initially contacted by patrol officers at a Las Vegas hotel and has not resisted cooperation, Dillon said. "There was no hesitation on his part to cooperate and to immediately meet with police," Dillon said.

Simpson told The Associated Press auction house owner Tom Riccio called him several weeks ago to say some collectors "have a lot of your stuff and they don't want anyone to know they are selling it."

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Simpson, who was in Las Vegas for a friend's wedding, said he arranged to meet Riccio at the hotel and conducted a "sting operation."

"Everybody knows this is stolen stuff," Simpson said. "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."

A message left for Riccio was not immediately returned.

Investigators were reviewing a complaint of a break-in at the hotel late Thursday night, police spokesman Jose Montoya said.

"When they talked to him, Simpson made the comment that he believed the memorabilia was his," Montoya said. "We're getting conflicting stories from the two sides."

Simpson is considered a suspect in the case, Montoya said. He was released after he and several associates were questioned, and he remained in Las Vegas.

"We don't believe he's going anywhere," Montoya said.

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The Heisman Trophy winner, ex-NFL star and actor, was in Las Vegas to promote his controversial book, "If I Did It," which was released Thursday, reports Brown.

The Heisman Trophy winner, ex-NFL star and actor lives near Miami and has been a tabloid staple since his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were killed in 1994. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, but a jury later held him liable for the killings in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Simpson has had to auction off his sports collectibles, including his Heisman Trophy, to pay some of the $33.5 million judgment awarded in the civil trial.

On Thursday, the Goldman family published a book about the killings that Simpson had written under the title, "If I Did It," about how he would have committed the crime had he actually done it. After a deal for Simpson to publish it fell through, a federal bankruptcy judge awarded the book's rights to the Goldman family, who retitled it "If I Did It: The Confessions of a Killer."

Fred Goldman, Ron's Goldman's father, defended the family's decision to publish the book. He noted Simpson's penchant for breaking headlines.

"He brings attention to himself every time we turn around and he will continue to do that forever," Goldman said Friday on NBC's "Today Show."

The Las Vegas district attorney's office will decide whether to pursue charges in the casino case, but had not received police paperwork by Friday morning, an office assistant said.

Simpson had been scheduled to give a deposition Friday in Miami in a bankruptcy case involving his eldest daughter. But it was rescheduled because Simpson had told attorneys that he would be out of town.

The Palace Station, an aging property just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of several Station Casinos-owned resorts that cater to locals. The 1,000-room hotel-casino, with a 21-story tower and adjacent buildings, opened in 1976.

A company spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment.
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