What Really Happened During O.J.'s 'Sting'?

Accomplices, accusers in Vegas robbery all have different tales.


LAS VEGAS, Sept. 17, 2007 — -- Just a day after O.J. Simpson's arrest, the saga of his latest brush with the law is turning into a uniquely American version of "Rashomon," the classic Japanese movie about a crime that eludes the truth due to conflicting witness accounts.

Instead of a Buddhist priest, a woodcutter and the wife of a murdered samurai describing a crime that takes place in a forest grove in Japan, in the Simpson case there is a football legend acquitted of murder, some real estate brokers and two memorabilia dealers squaring off in a shabby hotel room off the Strip in Sin City.

Simpson's accomplices and accusers have told conflicting accounts of what happened in a room at the Palace Station Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Thursday. And almost all of them pleaded innocence while blaming Simpson, who was arrested Sunday on multiple felony charges in connection with the armed holdup of the dealers.

In the latest twist, Clarence "CJ" Stewart, a golfing buddy of Simpson, turned himself in to Las Vegas Metro Police this afternoon. He was charged with several felony counts, including two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His lawyer, Robert Lucherini, told ABC News that he expects his client will be granted bail and released.

Earlier on Monday, Stewart told ABCNEWS.com that "I'm not doing really well" and that his lawyer had been talking to the police to set up a meeting. According to Lucherini, police searched Stewart's Vegas home this weekend, but did not recover any weapons or memorabilia. Lucherini said that Stewart was not armed during the incident at the Palace Station, that he did not see any weapons in the room and that he had no idea that Simpson was planning a confrontation.

"I don't think my client had a clue what was going down," said Lucherini. "I don't think everybody in that room had any idea what was going to happen. It was just going to be a meeting and O.J. wasn't completely clear about it."

Lucherini says that on Saturday and Sunday, Simpson explained his actions to Stewart, who understood the gridiron great's intentions. They both attended the Saturday nuptials of Thomas Scotto; Simpson's eldest daughter, Arnell, was the wedding planner.

Meanwhile Scotto, a Miami auto dealer with a concealed weapon permit, met with police Sunday night. "At the conclusion of those interviews, he was excluded as a suspect in that case," said police spokesman Jose Montoya.

Scotto is currently on his honeymoon "in a tropical climate," according to Barron, one of Scotto's employees, who declined to give his full name.

Michael McClinton, an alleged Simpson accomplice, had his Vegas home searched by police Saturday night. It was unclear whether it was McClinton's home where police found two guns and whether he has been questioned about the incident.

Walter Alexander, Simpson's third alleged accomplice who police say brandished a gun during the robbery, was waiting for a flight at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Saturday night, when police brought him in for questioning. Before Alexander gave police a statement and was released, his lawyer negotiated a "non-use proffer" that prevents authorities from using any of that statement against him. He faces robbery, assault, conspiracy and burglary charges.

During an impromptu news conference in Los Angeles, Monday, Alexander defended his actions and distanced himself from Simpson.

"I'm not a thug," he said, explaining that he's a licensed real estate agent in Arizona and California. "I just got caught up in some mess. I've been listening to the news and 'O.J.'s posse' and 'O.J.'s men.' I'm not one of O.J.'s men. I'm not a yes man. The reason O.J. liked me is because I'm a man's man."

But then Alexander seemed to belie his claim when he described threatening Simpson over the phone. "I told him, 'I enjoyed golfing with you, dude, but if you ever call me that again, I'm gonna take this golf club and wrap it around your head.'"

Simpson also says that his sting operation was just an attempt to take back what belonged to him — memorabilia that included autographed sports collectibles, his Hall of Fame certificate, a photograph with former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and video from his first wedding. Simpson said that no guns were used during the incident .

Simpson's accusers, however, tell a different tale, complete with epithet-laden threats, thuggery and weapons. Memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong described to "Good Morning America," Monday, how Simpson and his associates stormed into his hotel room.

"The door burst open and they came in commando style, O.J. Simpson and some of his people, I guess you would call it, with guns drawn," he said on "GMA."

"The thing in my mind as soon as I saw him, I'm thinking, 'O.J., how can you be this dumb?'"

In an audiotape released by TMZ.com, the Web site says it is Simpson angrily confronting Fromong and another memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley.

"Think you can steal my s--t and sell it?" the man purported to be Simpson is heard saying. He then tells his associates: "Don't let nobody out of here!"

Back at the Palace Station, some employees were amused at the whole incident and surprised by Simpson's behavior.

"This ain't the Wild West — you can't just walk in there with guns blazing," said Jackie, a security guard at the hotel.

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