Photos released of O.J. Simpson partying before Las Vegas robbery arrest
10/12/2017 12:07 pm PDT
As O.J. Simpson continues to adjust to life outside of prison, Crime Watch Daily Special Correspondent Kim Goldman is getting a first look at all of the evidence detectives used to put him behind bars for armed robbery.
It was late on the summer evening of September 13, 2007 in Las Vegas, and "The Juice" is about to put the squeeze on sports memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong and two associates.
"Simpson decided he wanted to bring along armed gunmen," said Las Vegas Metro Police Lead Detective Andy Caldwell (Ret.).
O.J. Simpson, the man a civil jury found responsible for killing Kim Goldman's brother Ron, is about to steal memorabilia, items he claims belong to him.
"It wasn't his stuff," Andy Caldwell tells Crime Watch Daily. "The property belonged to Bruce Fromong."
On hotel surveillance video, Simpson and his crew stroll into the Palace Station Hotel like a bunch of middle-aged guys looking for action. They take the elevator to room 1203. Inside that room, the dealers think a potential buyer is coming to purchase Simpson memorabilia. But when the door opens, it's O.J. and his henchmen.
One of the victims recorded audio of the break-in.
Simpson: "You think you can steal my [----] and sell it?"
Simpson's accomplice Mike McClinton was packing heat and barked out chilling orders:
McClinton: "Stand the [----] up before it gets ugly in here. You lucky you ain't in L.A., your [----] would be laying on the floor."
It's six minutes of sheer terror for the men staring down the business end of a gun.
McClinton: "Hey man, shut your [----] mouth before you get your [----] whupped."
After Simpson and his accomplices leave, you can hear the victims talking about what just went down: "We were just robbed at gunpoint by O.J. Simpson."
Simpson had gone into the room, warned them not to leave, and then he takes everything and stuffs it into some pillowcases.
"Pillowcases and boxes, and everybody just starts carting things out," said Caldwell. "The violence just escalated to the point where screaming and yelling happens and people are being pushed around."
Cops knew it was Simpson, and he knew he was a wanted man. The next day Simpson called Det. Caldwell and left a strange message.
"Uh, hey, uh, Officer Caldwell, uh, this is O.J. calling. Uh, yes my lawyer is taking your numbers," Simpson says. "Uh, hope all is well and sorry about all of this crap that you're gonna, I don't know, find. [Laughing.] Hey, you take care."
Police learn O.J. Simpson is in Las Vegas for the wedding of his best friend. He's staying at the Palms Hotel. The detectives go there to get his side of the story.
"He let us into the room, he sat down on his bed and he just starts telling us things," said Caldwell. "We weren't recording because we weren't starting a formal interview until his attorney got there.
"His demeanor was very erratic. He puts his phone down in between his legs, and then he loses it, and he looks at me and he says 'Did you take my phone?' It's right there between your legs. And he grabs the phone and he picks it up and he brings it to his chest like it's a long-lost item he cherished, and now he throws himself back on the bed and he starts wiggling around on the bed and he puts his arms and legs up in the air," said Caldwell. "And this happens for about 20 seconds. And then the man sat right back up and continued talking as if nothing happened."
Does the detective think Simpson was "on something?"
"From what I can say, yes," said Caldwell.
Vegas Police have enough probable cause to arrest Simpson. But since it's a high-profile case then-Clark County District Attorney David Roger had to sign off.
"I wanted to make sure that we had the case tied up really tight before we arrested O.J. Simpson," said Roger. "In addition, it's not like O.J. Simpson can go anywhere on the face of this planet and hide. I mean, he is one of the most recognizable people."
But the other guys on the surveillance tape are not so recognizable. The cops quickly tracked down one of the gunmen, and he caved.
"We received a tip from Walter Alexander's friend, girlfriend, or someone, who said he was involved in the robbery, and that he was headed to the airport trying to 'get out of Dodge,' and so detectives went and got him at the airport, and he immediately wanted to cooperate," David Roger tells Crime Watch Daily. "Walter Alexander wanted to cut a deal."
And the deal is that Alexander would rat on everyone else.
"Walter Alexander laid it all out for us. He identified all of the participants," said Roger. One of those participants was Michael McClinton.
"So when Michael McClinton's attorney surrendered him and said that he wanted to cooperate, he said 'By the way, I have an audio tape too," said David Roger.
Another audio tape. And this one is explosive.
Simpson: "Get me some boys. I just want them to look menacing."
The job at the Palace Station Hotel went down at 7:32 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2007.
Eight minutes later, at 7:40, Simpson and his accomplices were in the parking lot carrying pillowcases filled with sports memorabilia he just stole. The drive to Simpson's room at the Palms Hotel right off the Strip is a little more than three miles away.
At 8:08 p.m., Simpson arrives at the Palms and meets accomplice Charles Ehrlich for dinner in the hotel's Chinese restaurant. Simpson is drinking a martini with olives. What Simpson doesn't know is that another accomplice, Mike McClinton, is secretly recording him that night. And Simpson basically rats himself out.
Simpson: "You didn't pull the piece out in the hall?"
McClinton: "No, no, no, no, no, no. Hell no."
Simpson: "They would love to say 'O.J. had a gun.' Or 'O.J. pushed him.' Or 'O.J. touched him.'"
McClinton: "That's all they want."
Simpson: "[Inaudible] nobody touched anyone."
"Michael McClinton, when he went home, you know, the reality or the gravity of the situation hits him and he realizes 'Hey, I just committed an armed robbery,' and a fear sets in that 'I'm going to go down for this,'" said Andy Caldwell. "And that's why he brought the recording device was to protect himself from being the one guy that everybody points fingers at."
After dinner O.J. Simpson heads upstairs to the Ghostbar at The Palms. He's attending a pre-wedding party for his best friend Tom Scotto and Scotto's Brazilian fiancée Sabrina.
Tom Scotto had absolutely nothing to do with the robbery. In never-before-seen pictures Simpson appears to be getting all blotto with Scotto and their buddies. Simpson's girlfriend at the time, Christie Prody, was also present. And just around the corner secretly watching Simpson is Las Vegas Metro Police Sergeant Rod Hunt.
"He was sitting there yapping it up and drinking like nothing ever happened," Rod Hunt, now retired, tells Crime Watch Daily.
Why didn't police pick him up that night?
"We were told to pump the brakes, hold off a bit," said Hunt. "They want the T's crossed, the I's dotted."
The Juice looks well-lubricated, surrounded by a bevy of beauties, and his daughter Arnelle, accomplice Walter Alexander, and Tom Scotto and Scott's fiancée Sabrina.
And Simpson just keeps talking his way into prison.
Simpson: "Strong-arm robbery. They came in with guns [laughter]."
Simpson: "And I knew, to be honest with you, I knew now the Goldmans would get it and sell it. I told these guys 'Do whatever you wanna do with it.'"
O.J. Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldmans $33.5 million after a civil jury found him responsible for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole and Kim's brother Ron Goldman.
On the recording Simpson speculates about the cops busting him in the middle of the night.
Simpson: "Well, the last thing I want is at 4 o'clock, is [----] coming in here and arresting me."
But he seems to be more worried about the supermarket tabloids.
Alexander: "They just trying to get a story, man."
Simpson: "Yeah, yeah, 'cause that's what they do, it's a tabloid story."
Alexander: "O.J. and his 'goon squad' came in."
Two nights later Simpson is in the back of a limousine with the bride and groom on the way to the famous Little White Wedding Chapel. He's Scotto's best man. After the nuptials, the wedding party went to The Playboy Club. Simpson is seen toasting the couple.
The next morning he wouldn't be able to toast. He was in handcuffs.
Would police possibly have done things differently if it was a different defendant?
"Sure, sure," said retired detective Andy Caldwell. "We would have arrested him that night. And what happened was what a typical criminal thug does: They went in with violence and a gun and they took what wasn't theirs. It's partially because of who he was that he wasn't arrested that night."
Prosecutors call O.J. Simpson the mastermind of the robbery. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Simpson was sentenced to nine to 33 years in prison. At his recent parole hearing Simpson threw his accomplices under the bus.
"They made it clear during the trial that I had no weapon, they didn't feel threatened by me for what you said, and that I didn't threaten. It was the other two security guys that did that," Simpson said during his parole hearing.
"It just irritated me to no end, and I can't tell you why, because I don't care about O.J. Simpson anymore, but when you go in there and you're supposed to tell the truth about the crime for which you were convicted, you would think that he'd be truthful," said former prosecutor David Roger.
His five accomplices have been free for years. Michael McClinton, Charlie Ehrlich, Walter Alexander and Charles Cashmore were all sentenced to probation in exchange for their testimony.
Clarence Stewart appealed his conviction, saying he never should have been tried with O.J. Simpson. He was granted a new trial, but to avoid going through another trial he struck a plea deal: Guilty with time served.
Today O.J. Simpson is renting a multimillion-dollar house in Las Vegas. He's said he wants to move back to Florida. He's about a hundred pounds leaner from when he went in.
"Probably the biggest thing I wanted to clear up was that he didn't steal his own property back," said Caldwell. "It seems like people want to minimize the nature of the crime that happened, but the reality is it was a violent robbery that happened here, and he deserved what he got for what he did."
But to the Goldman family, O.J. Simpson is the guy who got away with murder.