LAS VEGAS (CN) – O.J. Simpson’s longtime friend, who posed as a sports memorabilia buyer during last year’s alleged hotel room holdup, testified Monday that he saw at least two guns during the incident – and that Simpson told his girlfriend afterward, “I’m gonna need a bail bondsman.”
Also on Monday, Tom Riccio, the sports memorabilia broker who set up the meeting, revealed that he made $210,000 by selling to the media the secret recordings that he made before, during and after the alleged holdup.
Charles Ehrlich, who has known Simpson for eight years, testified that Simpson “said (to his girlfriend, Christine Prody), ‘I fucked up, I’m gonna need a bail bondsman.'”
Ehrlich also testified in Clark County Court that he heard Simpson tell a gunman to “put the gun away.”
Riccio, who testified before Ehrlich on Monday, said he got $150,000 from celebrity gossip Web site TMZ, $25,000 from Entertainment Tonight, $20,000 from Howard Stern’s radio show and $15,000 from ABC. He also said he wrote a book about the incident.
Riccio said that he tried to get police and the FBI involved in the sting to help Simpson get his stuff back, but they weren’t interested. He said they told him it was a civil matter, and that all parties involved should consult their attorneys.
Riccio said the meeting was held in Las Vegas because Simpson didn’t want to do it in California.
“He said it wasn’t going to work in California, (that) there could be a lot of problems because the Goldmans – which he called the ‘Gold-diggers’ – would get the stuff.”
Simpson was acquitted of murder for the 1994 stabbing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, but the Goldman family later won a multimillion-dollar civil judgment against him – which remains unpaid.
Ehrlich, a longtime racetrack buddy of Simpson’s, testified that the original plan was for him to act as a sports memorabilia dealer and simply enter the hotel room at the Palace Station Hotel where Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong waited with potential merchandise.
“Originally, I was gonna go look at the merchandise and come down and tell Mr. Simpson what I saw or what was up there,” Ehrlich testified.
The plan changed when Simpson, Stewart and several other men barged into the hotel room behind him, Ehrlich testified.
He said one man waved a gun around, while another opened his jacket pocket to reveal a gun.
Riccio previously testified that he had only seen one gun.
“They were pushing (Beardsley and Fromong) around pretty good, shaking them down a little bit,” Ehrlich said. “They were looking to see if they had any weapons.”
Ehrlich said he quickly left the hotel room after the men barged in behind him.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was pissed.”
He testified that Simpson told him in his hotel room after the event, “‘There were no guns.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about?'” Simpson then “sat down and started mumbling to himself, ‘Why did I tell those two guys to come along?”
“He was in denial,” Ehrlich said.
Riccio acknowledged to prosecutor Chris Owens that it seemed that Simpson was trying to convince him that there weren’t any guns in the room.
Ehrlich pleaded guilty to charges of attempted accessory to robbery and attempted burglary, and was given a plea deal in exchange for his testimony.
Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart face 12 charges, including armed robbery, kidnapping, assault and coercion for the Sept. 13, 2007 incident. If convicted, they could get life in prison.
Simpson’s attorney, Yale Galanter, has maintained that his client simply wanted to retrieve personal belongings stolen from him, and that he had no knowledge of any weapons.