Kidnapping is included among Simpson charges

The Baltimore Sun

LAS VEGAS -- O.J. Simpson and three other men were charged yesterday with 10 felony counts, including kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, in the purported theft of at least $80,000 worth of sports memorabilia from a hotel room.

If convicted, Simpson, 60, could face life in prison.

The former football star is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center. Simpson - who was acquitted in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman - is scheduled to be arraigned this morning.

Also charged in last week's incident at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino were Walter Alexander, 46, of Arizona, and Las Vegas residents Clarence Stewart, 53, and Michael McClinton, 49. Alexander was released this week on his own recognizance, and Stewart posted $78,000 bail. McClinton surrendered to police yesterday afternoon.

"My client didn't know what O.J. was going to do" when he agreed to drive him Thursday to a meeting at the Palace Station, said Stewart's attorney, Rob Lucherini.

The four men are charged with conspiracy to commit a kidnapping; coercion with a deadly weapon; burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon; conspiracy to commit robbery; and two counts each of first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, robbery with use of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon. Each was also charged with one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit a crime.

Police were searching yesterday for two other suspects.

Simpson has said that he was in Las Vegas for the wedding of Thomas Scotto, 45, who was one of the initial suspects but was later cleared, said Lt. Clint Nichols of the Las Vegas police.

Thomas Riccio, a California auctioneer, has said that he arranged the meeting between Simpson and collectors Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, who had in their possession signed baseballs and game footballs, among other items.

Riccio surreptitiously tape- recorded the meeting and provided the tape to the celebrity gossip Web site, which posted the expletive-laced confrontation Monday.

At one point, according to court documents, Simpson ripped Fromong's cell phone out of his hands to prevent him from calling 911 as another man pointed a gun. Fromong, who suffered a heart attack Monday, was in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles yesterday.

After his acquittal in 1995, Simpson was found liable in a wrongful-death civil lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.

Ashley Powers writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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