Man gets bail in Simpson incident

A fifth suspect alleged to have accompanied O.J. Simpson in an armed robbery at the Palace Station turned himself in to police and received bail Friday in Justice Court.

Charles Ehrlich, 53, was handcuffed by a plainclothes Las Vegas police officer before Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure.

Ehrlich's attorney, John Moran Jr., said his client will be able to make the $32,000 bail that Bonaventure set and will return to Florida, near Miami, where he has lived with and cared for his invalid mother for the past 10 years.

"He's not a principal in this," Moran said after the hearing.

Moran said Ehrlich, who works in real estate, was in Las Vegas last week for the same wedding that Simpson attended. The attorney declined to describe Ehrlich's involvement in the Palace Station incident Sept. 13.

As a condition of his release, the judge required Ehrlich to call and check in with his attorney on weekdays and to turn over his passport.

Simpson and his co-defendants are accused of taking a number of sports memorabilia items at gunpoint from collectors Bruce Fromong and Alfred Beardsley.

Simpson, who was arrested Sunday and released Wednesday on $125,000 bail, has maintained the items were stolen from him.

Along with Simpson and Ehrlich, those arrested are Charles Cashmore, 40, Michael McClinton, 50, and Clarence Stewart, 53, all of Las Vegas, and Walter Alexander, 46, of Mesa, Ariz.

Stewart and Alexander have been released from jail -- Stewart on $78,000 bond and Alexander on his own recognizance.

McClinton was unable to make his $32,000 bail and remains in custody with Cashmore, who was also unable to make the $28,000 bail Bonaventure set for him Friday.

In assigning bail amounts, Bonaventure noted all of the defendants are accused of having different levels of participation in the incident and different criminal backgrounds.

Ehrlich has a conviction nearly two decades old for trafficking a controlled substance. His attorney said he successfully completed his probation in that case and did not serve time.

Simpson's co-defendants each have been charged with nine felonies and one gross misdemeanor on conspiracy, robbery, kidnapping and assault related charges.

Simpson was charged with those same crimes plus one count of coercion with the use of a deadly weapon for allegedly preventing Fromong from calling for help by taking his cell phone.

Both Cashmore and McClinton are scheduled for an Oct. 4 preliminary hearing, during which prosecutors will present the fundamental aspects of their case. Bonaventure could then decide whether to dismiss the charges or to send the defendants to District Court to face those charges in trial.

Defendants can also waive their right to a preliminary hearing, moving the case to District Court.

In front of Bonaventure, Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent said a decision had not been made whether prosecutors intend to use a secret grand jury, or a public preliminary hearing to try to bind the defendants over for trial.

Simpson and the other defendants have a status check scheduled for Oct. 22, when a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.