Monday, Dec. 8, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Sun special coverage
O.J. Simpson is quickly becoming one of Nevada’s most popular prisoners.
The charismatic NFL legend was convicted on Oct. 3 of one misdemeanor and 11 felony offenses following a run-in with two memorabilia dealers in a Palace Station hotel room last fall.
He was held for a little more than two months at the Clark County Detention Center following his conviction while he awaited sentencing. During that time, his lawyers said that their client had adapted to prison life as best he could and had made friends behind bars, too.
Simpson’s lawyer, Gabriel Grasso, said the former football legend has become somewhat of a jailhouse sugar daddy, buying down-and-out jailhouse friends sweets and snacks.
“The jail has what’s known as a commissary where you can actually put in a written order and say, ‘I want two Snickers bars, a couple of ramen noodles, and whatever,’ and they actually will come to you within a day or two and you can actually eat those things and not have to eat the jail food, or not just have to live off of the jail food,” Grasso said.
“O.J. is actually buying stuff for all of these other guys who don’t have anybody on the outside (to buy it for them),” he said. “Candy bars, soup, chocolate, whatever you can buy at the commissary he’s been actually buying it for them, using his money to buy it for them.”
“You can’t buy anything like clothes or TVs,” he clarified.
“It’s basically Snickers bars,” the former NFL star’s other attorney, Yale Galanter, said.
Simpson was sentenced Friday to 33 years in prison with no chance of parole for nine years. His attorneys will appeal the decision.
The Heisman Trophy winner will likely serve his term in Indian Springs, at either the High Desert State Prison or Southern Desert Correctional Center, according to his attorneys.
Regardless of what penitentiary Simpson is sent to, the former football great will likely be kept away from the general prison population due to his celebrity.
Grasso said his client has been burning through his prisoner expense account buying food and candy for his fellow inmates.
“I was saying, where is all of this money going? How many candy bars can you eat?” Grasso said.
The inmate accounts are financed by felons’ contacts on the outside and are not funded by the state. Simpson has not used any public or tax dollars to buy his new jailhouse friends any treats.
Simpson was painted as a popular personality who makes friends quickly throughout his three-week trial. Describing the scene at the Palms pool just hours before the infamous confrontation took place on Sept. 13, 2007, several witnesses told the court how strangers gravitated toward the former All-Star running back as the co-conspirators schemed by the pool.
A secretly audio recording of the poolside planning session was used as evidence against Simpson, 61, and his co-defendant, Clarence “C.J. Stewart, 54, during their joint trial.
The recorded conversation included several interruptions that were caused when passers-by stopped to say hello to the aging star and ask for autographs.
Due in part to Simpson’s resilient charisma, Grasso indicated on Friday that he isn’t overly worried about his client’s safety in prison.
“When he does meet people in jail, when he does have to interact with people, they’re going to treat him well because he treats them well,” Grasso said.
“He’s very adaptable,” Galanter added, “(But) O.J. Simpson certainly carries with him some unique (problems) and we fully expect the officials in Nevada to … make sure that his safety is assured.”