Simpson in Las Vegas jail, accused by DA of violating bail terms
LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson was in jail Saturday, accused of violating terms of his bail in an armed robbery case, after a bondsman told authorities the former football star tried to get him to pass a message to a co-defendant. Simpson is awaiting a 9 a.m. Wednesday court hearing, when prosecutors plan to request that Simpson's bail be revoked and he be kept in jail until the trial, set for April.
Simpson, 60, arrived in Las Vegas on Friday on a commercial flight from Florida with his North Las Vegas-based bail bondsman, Miguel Pereira. He was taken in handcuffs by a police escort to the Clark County Detention Center.
Pereira, of You Ring We Spring, said he was unhappy because he had not been paid for handling Simpson's bail. Pereira added he gave prosecutors the message Simpson wanted him to take to a co-defendant because he didn't want to face criminal charges.
"He left a message instructing me to do something violating a court order," the bondsman told The Associated Press after escorting Simpson from his home in Miami. "I don't want to get involved in such a dilemma or a criminal act."
Simpson's attorney denied the allegations.
"O.J. did not try to persuade anybody to contact a witness," Yale Galanter told The Associated Press.
District Attorney David Roger, in a motion filed Friday in Clark County District Court, alleges that the tape-recorded message Simpson left for Pereira on Nov. 16 was an effort to contact co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart, which violated a court order.
"I just want, want C.J. to know that ... I'm tired of this [expletive]," Simpson is quoted in the documents as saying on the taped message. "Fed up with [expletives] changing what they told me. All right?"
Pereira confirmed that Simpson left the message, in which he expressed frustration at testimony during a three-day preliminary hearing in November.
Stewart's lawyer, Jose Pallares, said he had no knowledge that Simpson's message ever got to Stewart.
Pereira said he turned over the message to prosecutors after learning that someone else knew about it.
"He said he was going to send it to the D.A.'s office and have me criminally charged," Pereira said.
Pereira believes the message was discovered by someone tapping Simpson's phone, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. A Las Vegas police transcript of the message, which is attached to Roger's motion, is titled, "surreptitious recording."
Simpson had been instructed by Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe M. Bonaventure in September not to have any contact with anyone involved in the case -- not even by "carrier pigeon."
He was freed Sept. 19 on $125,000 bail following his arrest on allegations he and several friends burst into a Las Vegas hotel room and robbed two sports memorabilia dealers at gunpoint.
Simpson has maintained that he was retrieving items that belonged to him. He, Stewart and Charles Ehrlich are scheduled to stand trial April 7 on 12 charges.
Roger's motion alleges Simpson "committed new crimes," without elaborating. Dan Kulin, a spokesman for Roger, declined to say whether new charges would be filed against Simpson.
Galanter said he believed the "new crimes" referred to allegations of witness tampering. He called Pereira a member of Simpson's defense team, and said he was "totally miffed" by the effort to use a tape of a permissible phone call to try to revoke Simpson's bail.
"He was clearly voicing frustration to a member of the defense team who had been providing security, transportation and investigation services," Galanter said.
Pereira said he provided security and transportation, and that Simpson stayed at his home during the preliminary hearing. But he said he and his business, You Ring We Spring bail bonds, were not part of Simpson's legal team.
"I'm a separate entity," he said. "Whenever they go into their attorney-client thing, I step out of the room. I'm not an investigator, nor am I hired or paid by their defense team."
Pereira said he was upset that Simpson never paid him the $18,750 he was due for posting Simpson's bail.
"I'm in the bag for plane tickets, car rental down in Florida, even the $40 filing fee at the jail," he said.
Simpson, Stewart and Ehrlich each pleaded not guilty Nov. 28 to kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion and conspiracy charges. A kidnapping conviction could bring a life sentence with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction carries mandatory prison time.
Three other former co-defendants, Walter Alexander, Michael McClinton and Charles Cashmore, agreed to plea deals and testified against Simpson at the evidentiary hearing.
Simpson has maintained that no guns were displayed during the confrontation, that he never asked anyone to bring guns and that he did not know anyone had guns. He has said he intended only to retrieve items that had been stolen from him by a former agent, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted of murder in 1995 in the slayings of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press