FBI knew in advance of Simpson's 'sting' plan
Dealer informed bureau of effort to retrieve items
LOS ANGELES - Federal agents learned three weeks in advance that O.J. Simpson and a memorabilia dealer planned an operation to retrieve personal items Simpson said were stolen from him, according to FBI reports obtained yesterday by the Associated Press.
Dealer Thomas Riccio said he reported to the FBI a collector who claimed to have belongings taken from Simpson.
"The guy flat-out told me he had items stolen from O.J.'s house," Riccio said. "I have a legitimate business."
Riccio told FBI agents Aug. 21 that Simpson wanted to videotape the confrontation with the collector, who was selling thousands of pieces of Simpson's memorabilia.
But Riccio was not clear how the operation would unfold. Riccio was advised to contact a lawyer before taking any action and was told that alerting the FBI would not absolve him of any potential crime, agent Linda Kline wrote of the meeting, which occurred in Los Angeles.
"I went along with O.J.'s plan," Riccio told the AP yesterday. "It was a self-organized sting operation. Except for the final result, with him bringing people who had guns. I knew nothing about that."
Simpson, 60, and five other men were arrested after they allegedly stormed a Las Vegas hotel room with guns drawn Sept. 13 to seize items that were believed to include family photos and the suit Simpson wore the day he was acquitted of murdering his former wife and her friend.
Las Vegas police said the FBI did not alert them before the confrontation between Simpson and collectors Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.
"They contacted us afterward and provided us with the documentation," said Las Vegas police Detective Andy Caldwell, the investigator handling the case.