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Detective in the O.J. Vegas robbery case talks new book

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Andy Caldwell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. was the lead detective in the September 2007 robbery of the Palace Station hotel-casino involving former NFL legend O.J. Simpson.

Simpson and a group of men were subsequently charged with criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery and use of a deadly weapon.

Caldwell’s new book, “ROOM 1203 – O.J. Simpson’s Las Vegas Conviction,” reveals new details about the robbery that locked Simpson away for nine years – details that have been incorporated into a two-hour A&E documentary called “O.J.: Guilty in Vegas.”

Simpson was granted parole in July 2017 and is expected to be released from Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada in October.

Caldwell checked in with The Maine Edge last week to talk about the case, his book and the new documentary.

TME: In your book, you write that you had a short-lived moment of feeling star-struck when you first saw Simpson in connection to this case. What happened next? 

Caldwell: It was easy to get star-struck by his personality because he was very dynamic. But all of a sudden, I realized that he was wearing the same clothes that I saw in the surveillance footage taken on the day of the robbery. That instantly brings you back to any other robbery and made it easier to see him as a criminal.

TME: How much of Simpson’s involvement in this case was actually captured by the hotel’s security cameras?

Caldwell: Everything except what actually happened in the room. But beyond the surveillance video, we had audio recordings of everything leading up to it. We have audio of the planning stages, phone conversations recorded after the robbery occurred and we had recording of an afterparty where there was discussion of the incident. There is even audio of what the police were doing as this party was going on.

There’s a really important element to this case that I hope people will understand from the book and from this A&E documentary. He didn’t steal his own property back. That is a lie that has been perpetuated over the years and has grown to the point that people believe it. 

TME: Did he go in there with his guys and guns believing that it was his property or did he know all along that it wasn’t his stuff? 

Caldwell: That’s where it gets a little convoluted. He did have information that other property was going to be in the room and at the last minute that changed. He was uninformed about that, as best as I know.

Even if his property had been in the room, he could not go in there with armed thugs and take property back while pushing people around. Had it been rightfully his, he should have called the police and had it adjudicated in that manner. The mere fact that law enforcement wasn’t called was indicative of his knowledge that he had criminal intent.

TME: Simpson has always denied that guns were involved. When I interviewed his former manager (Norman Pardo) a few weeks ago, he used the word “allegedly” when talking about the use of guns during the robbery.

Caldwell:  I don’t know why he would have used the word “allegedly” – it happened. O.J. was convicted of the crime and there is no question that the guns were there. I recovered the guns. Both of the people carrying the guns admitted that O.J. told them to bring the guns. There’s no doubt that guns were used in a very violent way.

TME: Under Nevada law, Simspon could have received a life sentence with parole for the kidnapping charge alone. Instead he was sentenced to 33 years with the possibility of parole after serving nine years, which is what ultimately happened. Do you think the sentence he served was appropriate for the crime committed?

Caldwell: The great thing about sentencing structures is that they allow a broad range of application based on the individual circumstances. Let me throw this out – he was offered two plea bargains that would have had him out of prison within a year. He refused those plea bargains. I believe the sentence was appropriate, given the totality of the circumstances.

TME: According to advance press about the A&E documentary, there is new information about the case. Is that anything you can talk about?

Caldwell: There’s a lot of stuff in the documentary that was covered during the trial but ignored by the media. I’ll tell you something specifically that deals with a bail bondsman. He’s going to reveal a conversation that he had with O.J. that he’s been consistent with going back to 2007. O.J. told him about the night of the murders in Los Angeles in 1994 (when Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were killed. Simpson was acquitted after a lengthy trial in 1995). He provides details about those murders that are absolutely fascinating. 

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