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Executor of O.J. Simpson's estate changes position on payout to Ron Goldman's family

O.J. Simpson dies after cancer battle
Former NFL star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of double murder, dies at 76 06:34

O.J. Simpson's longtime attorney and the executor of his estate has backpedaled on earlier remarks suggesting he would block any claims for settlement money from Ron Goldman's family members, who along with Nicole Brown's family were awarded millions in a civil judgment that was never paid in full.

Nevada-based lawyer Malcolm LaVergne had represented Simpson, the former NFL star and acquitted murder defendant notoriously found not guilty in the killings of Goldman and Brown, from 2009 until his death from prostate cancer last week. Simpson's will was filed in a Clark County court and formally named LaVergne the executor of his estate. His family had announced Simpson's death the previous day.

Shortly after Simpson's will was filed on Friday, LaVergne told the Las Vegas-Review Journal that he intended to fight the Goldmans in their pursuit of the unpaid settlement.

"It's my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing," LaVergne said in controversial comments to the newspaper. "Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing." 

The attorney seems to have changed course since then. On Monday, LaVergne told The Hollywood Reporter that he wanted to walk back those comments, and he later confirmed the reversal in a statement to CBS News.

"That 'zero, nothing' remark to a local reporter was harsh and in response to what an attorney for Fred Goldman said (within an hour of notification of OJ's death), not Fred Goldman himself. Mr. Goldman's personal post-OJ death remarks have been non-offensive and understandable given the circumstances," LaVergne said in the statement.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of the gruesome murders of Brown, his ex-wife, and Ron Goldman, her friend, following a widely-debated criminal case and what has been called "the trial of the century." A California jury found in a subsequent civil judgment several years later that Simpson was liable for their deaths, and ordered him to pay Brown and Goldman's families $33.5 million in damages.

Even after Simpson was released in 2017 from the Nevada prison where he ultimately served nine years for multiple felony convictions, the debt was never paid out to completion.

Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman, has unrelentingly sought justice for his murder for the last 30 years. He reacted to Simpson's death in an interview with NBC News in the wake of the announcement, saying it was "no great loss to the world" but focusing the comments mainly on his son.

"The only thing I have to say is it's just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years," Fred Goldman said. "It's no great loss to the world. It's a further reminder of Ron's being gone."  

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Fred Goldman, father of Ron Goldman, speaks to reporters as Lauren Luebker, left, and Kim Goldman, right, Ron Goldman's sister, listen on Dec. 5, 2008, in Las Vegas after O.J. Simpson was sentenced on charges including felony kidnapping, armed robbery and conspiracy related to a 2007 confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers. Pool / Getty Images

David J. Cook, an attorney for Fred Goldman who specializes in financial judgments and has worked for decades with the family to try and collect the multi-million dollar civil settlement, was more accusing in his own remarks. Cook told CBS News that Simpson's death was "a death without penance" and the judgment owed to the Goldmans had with interest risen to $114 million. He also shared that Goldman and their legal team had not been able to access Simpson's NFL pension or trust.

"Efforts went nowhere. Did he have other money? Nothing that we could find. Do I think he was hiding money? Maybe," Cook said. The attorney told the Associated Press in the wake of Simpson's death that he planned to "keep going" in his pursuit of the settlement.

LaVergne noted in his latest statement about the Goldmans that the combative stance he took initially on their settlement was an extension of his time as Simpson's attorney — a role that he acknowledges has fundamentally changed now that he is the executor of the estate.

OJ Simpson
O.J. Simpson during his trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Sept. 26, 2008. Steve Marcus / Getty Images

"These are two different roles with different sets of rules. This is the first time I have been an executor of an estate, so the process has been a learning curve that I have to do very quickly because of the circumstances of this case," LaVergne said in the statement. "My intention is to keep the rhetoric and hyperbole down, and the actions to wind up Mr. Simpson's estate the focus."

He added that "transparency" will be his priority as he intends to invite Fred Goldman "in a very short amount of time" to go over the estate and the family's claims. LaVergne said the Brown family would be given the same opportunity "if their claim is still valid."

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