Thomas Riccio, whose tip to O.J. Simpson led to what authorities allege was armed robbery that could put O.J. behind bars, has a checkered past.
Riccio, an ex-con and well-known memorabilia dealer, has been in the headlines for selling Anna Nicole Smith's diaries for $500,000 and attempting to sell a video of Smith's breast enhancement surgery.
Two years ago, Riccio booked Simpson to sign memorabilia at the NecroComicon show in Los Angeles. The event was billed as a comic book convention but almost all of the featured attendees were actors known for their roles in horror and slasher films.
Riccio was quoted at the time as saying Simpson was "not getting a penny" for the three-day appearance, which included being paid $95 to pose for a photo or sign a T-shirt. For $125, he would autograph football jerseys and helmets.
Alfred Beardsley, whom authorities describe as one of the victims of the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at Palace Station, described Riccio as "a real slimeball" in an interview with the New York Post.
"Mr. Simpson was misled by this Mr. Riccio," Beardsley told the Post.
Riccio told Geraldo Rivera of Fox News that he was being made to look like the fall guy.
"I don't want to be 'the goon that set this whole thing up,'" Riccio told Rivera during an on-air appearance Saturday.
"They're looking to pin it all on me because I'm an ex-con, but I've been clean since 1994, running a legit business," said Riccio, who was in Las Vegas on Friday, when the story broke.
Riccio's Corona, Calif.-based Universal Rarities handled the eBay auction of Smith's handwritten diaries not long after the former Playboy playmate's death.
Simpson was quoted as saying Riccio called him several weeks ago to tell him that people "have a lot of your stuff, and they don't want anyone to know they are selling it."
Simpson was arrested Sunday on two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm, police said.
The NFL Hall of Fame running back was found not guilty in 1995 of the June 12, 1994, double slaying of former wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ronald Goldman.
One of the first things Las Vegas police did after the incident was view the surveillance tapes at Palace Station.
Simpson's stay at the Palms was causing some discomfort for owner George Maloof, who received a number of negative responses from people voicing dismay that Simpson was allowed to stay there.
Maloof told me he is no fan of Simpson, has "never met him" and was unaware Simpson was going to be staying at the Palms.
Simpson attracted a large crowd while hanging out at the Palms pool on Saturday. He was in town for a wedding at the Little White Chapel, best known for the 2004 quickie wedding of Britney Spears and childhood friend Jason Alexander.
Meanwhile, I'm hearing that Station Casinos has discussed the possibility of turning the site of the armed robbery at Palace Station into "The O.J. Simpson Suite."
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Got photos or sightings of O.J. Simpson in Las Vegas over the weekend? Send 'em to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post them on NormClarke.com, with photo credit.
At Rao's in Caesars Palace over the weekend: Ray Romano and Brad Garrett and friends on Saturday and singer Jerry Vale on Friday night. ... Siegfried & Roy, getting a welcome worthy of royalty at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas on Saturday night for their ceremonial keg-tapping appearance to kick off Oktoberfest. They were greeted by chants from hundreds of fans who stood on tables to see the illusionists' entry. Siegfried and Roy had mugs of beer and shared pretzels and white sausages. ... Actress Gabrielle Union, dining Saturday at N9NE steakhouse in the Palms. Union later was seen partying at Tao nightclub in The Venetian. ... Rapper Nas and wife-singer Kelis, attending Saturday's 10 p.m. performance of "Love" at The Mirage. ... Actor Nick Cannon, partying Saturday at Tao nightclub.
THE PUNCH LINE
"101 Alibis For All Occasions." -- From David Letterman's Top Ten Chapter Titles In O.J. Simpson's New Book