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FBI Knew of O.J. Simpson Plan in Advance

FBI Learned in Advance of O.J. Simp­son’s Plan to Retrieve Per­son­al Items

by Lin­da Deutsh and Ken Rit­ter


Fed­er­al agents learned three weeks in advance that O.J. Simp­son and a mem­o­ra­bil­ia deal­er planned an oper­a­tion to retrieve per­son­al items Simp­son said were stolen from him, accord­ing to FBI reports obtained Fri­day by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

Deal­er Thomas Ric­cio said he report­ed to the FBI on Aug. 21 that a col­lec­tor claimed to have belong­ings tak­en from Simp­son, and that Simp­son want­ed to video­tape the con­fronta­tion with the per­son ped­dling thou­sands of pieces of his mem­o­ra­bil­ia.

Ric­cio told AP that he raised the sub­ject while talk­ing with the FBI about an unre­lat­ed sub­ject: a video of Anna Nicole Smith. But he said agents dis­missed his report, telling him “they did­n’t want to be involved in anoth­er weirsd celebri­ty case.”

“The guy flat-out told me he had items stolen from O.J.‘s house,” Ric­cio told the AP. “I have a legit­i­mate busi­ness.”

FBI spokes­woman Lau­ra Eimiller said Ric­cio did not indi­cate a crime would be com­mit­ted.

Ric­cio was advised to con­tact a lawyer before tak­ing any action and was told that alert­ing the FBI would not absolve him of any poten­tial crime, agent Lin­da Kline wrote of the meet­ing, which occurred in Los Ange­les.

He was not clear how the oper­a­tion would unfold. There was no men­tion in the report of any plans to use guns.

“I went along with O.J.‘s plan,” Ric­cio said. “It was a self-orga­nized sting oper­a­tion. Except for the final result, with him bring­ing peo­ple who had guns. I knew noth­ing about that.”

Simp­son, 60, and five oth­er men were arrest­ed after they alleged­ly stormed a Las Vegas hotel room with guns drawn Sept. 13 to seize items that were believed to include fam­i­ly pho­tos and the suit Simp­son wore the day he was acquit­ted of mur­der­ing his ex-wife and her friend.

Las Vegas police said the FBI did not alert them before the con­fronta­tion between Simp­son and col­lec­tors Alfred Beard­s­ley and Bruce Fromong.

“They con­tact­ed us after­ward and pro­vid­ed us with the doc­u­men­ta­tion,” said Las Vegas Police Detec­tive Andy Cald­well, the inves­ti­ga­tor han­dling the case.

Cald­well said he had no infor­ma­tion about any FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into the inci­dent.

Ric­cio, who had pre­vi­ous­ly sold Anna Nicole Smith’s diary, said he spoke for an hour with FBI agents about a video he obtained from a doc­tor who record­ed Smith’s 1994 breast implant surgery. A Texas doc­tor claimed in June he gave Ric­cio per­mis­sion to use the video after Smith died. A judge has barred release of those videos in an unre­lat­ed case.

After dis­cussing Smith, FBI agents gave Ric­cio about 15 min­utes to dis­cuss Simp­son, but they expressed lit­tle inter­fest, he said.

Ric­cio said he con­tact­ed the Los Ange­les Police Depart­ment, where he said he was switched from depart­ment to depart­ment before final­ly being told to file a civ­il com­plaint.

“No one seemed to be con­cerned about it,” Ric­cio said.

An LAPD spokesman declined to com­ment on Ric­cio’s account.

Simp­son is charged with an assort­ment of felonies includ­ing armed rob­bery and kid­nap­ping. Three of his co-defen­dants have since plead­ed guilty to less­er charges and said they would tes­ti­fy against Simp­son. A pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing is sched­uled next week in Las Vegas.

The FBI reports, writ­ten Aug. 21 and Sept. 19, said Ric­cio told agents he had been approached by Beard­s­ley, who want­ed to sell thou­sands of Simp­son items.

The doc­u­ments said Ric­cio described Beard­s­ley as a fanat­ic and said Ric­cio con­tact­ed Simp­son about the items. Simp­son said his belong­ings were stolen from his Flori­da house by his for­mer agent, Mike Gilbert, and oth­ers who had worked for him. A call to Gilbert Fri­day seek­ing com­ment was not imme­di­ate­ly returned.

“Ric­cio and Simp­son want to do a tele­vi­sion broad­cast con­fronting Beard­s­ley regard­ing the items that were stolen,” one report said. “Simp­son want­ed Ric­cio’s assis­tance in set­ting up the oper­a­tion and help­ing obtain inter­views for Simp­son through var­i­ous media out­lets after the fact.”

Beard­s­ley told police he had been robbed by Simp­son and a group of men wield­ing guns. Simp­son has denied there were any guns involved. He said Ric­cio set up the meet­ing and he planned to sur­prise Beard­s­ley and retrieve his prop­er­ty.

Simp­son told the AP he went to the hotel room after being alert­ed by Ric­cio that Beard­s­ley and anoth­er col­lectibles deal­er, Fromong, were try­ing to sell his pos­ses­sions. Simp­son knew both deal­ers.

Ric­cio has released a tape record­ing he made of the inci­dent and been grant­ed immu­ni­ty by pros­e­cu­tors.

Asso­ci­at­ed Press Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent Lin­da Deutsch report­ed from Los Ange­les. AP writer Ken Rit­ter report­ed from Las Vegas.


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