Published Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 | 11:57 a.m.
Updated Friday, Dec. 19, 2008 | 5:18 p.m.
O.J. Simpson nemesis Fred Goldman failed to grab the brass ring in a Santa Monica courtroom on Friday but he hit the jackpot in Las Vegas, where a judge ordered that most of the items Simpson robbed from a pair of sports memorabilia dealers last year be returned to California.
The items commemorating Simpson's glory days as a college and pro football player will be sold to satisfy part of a $33.5 million civil wrongful-death judgment awarded in 1997 to the families of Goldman's son, Ronald, and Nicole Brown Simpson after the disgraced football star was acquitted of their 1994 murders.
"The irony is that this is precisely what Mr. Simpson sought to avoid, having the stuff end up in the hands of Fred Goldman," Goldman's lawyer, David Cook, said soon after leaving a Santa Monica courtroom where he had also hoped to collect Simpson's Pro Football Hall of Fame ring.
The man Cook believes has the ring, Alfred Beardsley, testified that he has no idea where it is.
Beardsley, one of the memorabilia dealers Simpson was convicted of robbing last year in Las Vegas, told a Santa Monica court that he heard the former football player lost the ring on a golf course years ago. He also denied ever telling a district attorney investigator in Las Vegas that Simpson had given it to him.
"It is absolutely, 100 percent not true," Beardsley testified.
Meanwhile, at a hearing in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Judge Jackie Glass ruled that dozens of items seized after Simpson's arrest on robbery and kidnapping charges be returned to California to be sold by the Los Angeles County sheriff and the money handed over to survivors of the 1994 slaying victims.
Glass also ordered that Simpson, Clarence "C.J." Stewart and four others who took part in the 2007 robbery pay a combined $3,560 in restitution to collectibles dealer Bruce Fromong, the other victim.
Simpson and Stewart were convicted in October of kidnapping, armed robbery, conspiracy and other charges for the bungled heist at a Palace Station hotel room that Simpson claimed was a sting operation aimed at retrieving his own property. The other four men who took part struck plea deals and testified against Simpson and Stewart.
Simpson, 61, was sentenced earlier this month to prison. On Friday, he was moved to the Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada to serve his term of nine to 33 years, said state prisons spokeswoman Suzanne Pardee.
Friday's almost-simultaneous hearings in two states brought to a close the latest chapter in a story Cook predicted "is going to continue eternally." That is Fred Goldman's effort to force Simpson to pay as much of the $33.5 million judgment as possible as compensation for the death of his son.
"A lot of people have asked, 'When are you going to give up,'" Cook told The Associated Press outside the Santa Monica courtroom. "The answer to that is that giving up is giving O.J. a free pass on these double murders."
Cook said he believes the items retrieved in Las Vegas could fetch as much as $50,000. He valued the ring he is still trying to locate at $200,000.
At a hearing last week in Santa Monica, Clark County district attorney investigator Bill Falkner testified that he had transported Beardsley several times from California, where he was in jail on a parole violation, to testify in Simpson's robbery case. The investigator said Beardsley told him "the only thing he received for his trouble in the case was Mr. Simpson's Hall of Fame ring."
Beardsley implied Falkner was lying, saying there was "bad blood" between him and the investigator.
"We didn't like each other," he testified. "He tried to intimidate me and he wanted me to testify to certain things that just didn't occur."
A week ago Beardsley refused to testify about the ring, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He said Friday that was because he and his attorney had heard he was under investigation by a grand jury in Las Vegas. He agreed to testify Friday, he said, after his lawyer was assured there was no investigation.
Superior Court Judge Gerald Rosenberg, who last week had ordered Beardsley to turn over the ring, ruled that he must give it up if it ever does come into his possession.
Outside court, Cook said he didn't believe Beardsley's testimony.
Beardsley said he plans to sue Goldman for having him hauled into court over the issue.
Associated Press Writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this story.