The taped voice sounded angry, commanding—and very much like O.J. Simpson's. "Don't let nobody out of this room!" said the voice on the audiotape purportedly made in the Palace Station hotel room on Thursday night during Simpson's so-called "sting operation." Then the voice on the tape that was leaked to celebrity website TMZ.com curses, apparently yelling at two collectables dealers who were in the room when Simpson and other men arrived. "M---f---s!" he yells more than once. "Think you can steal my s-- and sell it?"
Over the weekend, Simpson played off the hotel room confrontation to reporters as a business transaction during which he got a little emotional. Las Vegas Metro police clearly disagree. Officers arrested Simpson on Sunday and questioned him for several hours. They perp-walked him wearing blue jeans and a blue polo shirt, his hands cuffed behind his back, and took him to jail. There he was booked on suspicion of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm." If convicted on all counts Simpson, 60, could face a maximum of 35 years.
Now housed apart from other prisoners in a small cell in at the Clark County Detention Center, Simpson has become Clark County inmate 2648927. A bail hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
A lawyer for one of the men police are looking for in the incident says the tape is authentic. Lawyer Rob Lucherini represents Clarence Stewart, 53, a Las Vegas man police aim to question as one of those suspected of arriving at the room with Simpson. "I don't think (Stewart) doubts it's authentic," Lucherini, a Las Vegas criminal attorney, told Newsweek Monday, freely admitting that his client was present. "There are things in there that he recognizes." Lucherini, who was in conference with his client when Newsweek called on Monday afternoon, said that that Stewart has agreed to talk to police in the next couple of days; no arrest warrant has been issued for him. (Simpson has not spoken publicly as to whether it is his voice on the recording). Late Monday, Las Vegas police reported that Stewart had surrendered to police, according to the Associated Press. Police are holding him on suspicion of the same robbery, burglary and assault charges leveled against Simpson.
For his part, Stewart would only tell Newsweek that the allegations were "bulls---." Lucherini and Stewart declined to discuss whether there were guns present, what was taken or whether crimes were committed. "My client will discuss those matter with the police," Lucherini said, adding that Stewart, who lives in Las Vegas, is a golfing buddy of Simpson's.
Police continued to search for three other men: Michael McClinton, 49, of Las Vegas; Tom Scotto, age and hometown unknown; and another man whose name police apparently don't yet know. Saturday night they questioned and released Walter Alexander, 47, a Mesa, Arizona man they picked up at the Las Vegas airport. Alexander's Los Angeles attorney Bob Rentzer confirmed to Newsweek that he crafted a "non-use proffer" for his client under which Alexander's interview material can't be used against him. Police believe Alexander was one of the men who held a gun during the episode.
Police are still piecing together the facts. But it appears that Simpson, in Las Vegas for Scotto's wedding, had gotten word from a California auctioneer Thomas Riccio some weeks ago that friends of his were about to sell sports material that Simpson considered his. The gear—personal photos, autographed footballs, plaques and sports memorabilia from quarterback Joe Montana and others—had once been in a California storage locker belonging to Simpson's late mother, Simpson believed. He thought the stuff had been taken by a licensing agent named Mike Gilbert. (On the tape, one man yells "Mike took it" and the man believed to be Simpson replies "I f---ing know Mike took it!). Last week, the disputed items were in the possession of auctioneer Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley, a California man who has collected Simpson football material since the 1980s. So, police say, Simpson and his friends went up to the room to take it back. It's believed that Riccio made the tape recording.
Simpson's attorney Yale Galanter declined to respond to interview requests. Office manager Ali Costales said "he is on an airplane and won't have any comment today."
A Simpson family member told Newsweek that the American public is watching gleefully to see Simpson ruined at last because they are frustrated that he was acquitted of murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman. "They're after (O.J.) and won't be satisfied until he's in jail forever," the family member told NEWSWEEK. "They have made it clear they think he's guilty and they want to punish him any way they can." The family member says O.J.'s kin continue to be amazed at the degree of public anger. "All people are fixated on is O.J.," said the family member. "He's America's Villain Number 1, and I don't understand why."
Police say that they have no evidence that Simpson was actually wielding one of the two guns that investigators have seized through warrants. Legally, it doesn't matter. Simpson can be found guilty by a Nevada jury of directing an armed robbery, say, regardless of whether he himself was packing heat at the time. The key variable, says criminal defense attorney Tom Pitaro, an adjunct professor of law at University of Nevada Las Vegas's Boyd School of Law, is whether Simpson can be proven to have known others were armed, and whether he still willingly participated in the alleged robbery.
Fred Goldman, father of the slain Ron Goldman, said he wasn't surprised at Simpson's angry outburst on the tape. "This is who he is," Goldman told NEWSWEEK Monday. "He's a violent guy and at any given moment that he deems appropriate, he takes action. Just like when he murdered Ron and Nicole." Goldman has just published his version of Simpson's "If I Did It," the hypothethical tell-all that shot to number one on Amazon.com. Goldman also points out that the pattern of rage followed by charming self-justification isn't new. "He's a lunatic when he comes barging in, and a little while later he's justifying it and laughing. That's a pattern we've seen." Simpson may or may not be found guilty of the latest charges. But he likely is laughing less since Sunday.