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Judge gives Simpson associates probation

They took deals, testified against ex-football star

From left, Charles Cashmore, lawyer John Moran, Charles Ehrlich, lawyer William Terry, Michael McClinton, lawyer Robert Dennis Rentzer, and Walter Alexander appeared at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas yesterday. From left, Charles Cashmore, lawyer John Moran, Charles Ehrlich, lawyer William Terry, Michael McClinton, lawyer Robert Dennis Rentzer, and Walter Alexander appeared at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas yesterday. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)
By Ken Ritter
Associated Press / December 10, 2008
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LAS VEGAS - Four former O.J. Simpson codefendants who took plea deals and testified against the former football star were sentenced to probation yesterday for their roles in the gunpoint robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers.

Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass lectured the men but accepted a state recommendation that they serve no prison time. Instead she imposed terms of probation ranging from three to eight years on Michael McClinton, Walter Alexander, Charles Ehrlich, and Charles Cashmore.

"I think one of you expressed today that if Mr. Simpson wanted something done and wanted you to do something, he asked and you did it," the judge said. "How stupid. But also criminal. You all broke the law and now you're all paying for it . . . because you're all convicted felons now."

The eight-year probation sentence for McClinton, who testified that he supplied two guns and displayed one during the confrontation, drew an angry outburst from Bruce Fromong, one of the two memorabilia dealers robbed by Simpson and the others.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Fromong exclaimed before the judge ordered him removed from the courtroom and escorted out of the courthouse.

McClinton, Alexander, Ehrlich, and Cashmore each pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified about their involvement in Simpson's September 2007 confrontation with Fromong and fellow collectibles dealer Alfred Beardsley at a Las Vegas hotel-casino. Each could have gotten prison time - up to 11 years in McClinton's case.

Alexander, Ehrlich, and Cashmore each expressed relief following sentencing.

"One word. Relieved," Alexander said. Cashmore said he felt "reborn."

The men originally faced charges similar to Simpson and Clarence "C.J." Stewart, the only codefendant who stood trial.

Simpson, convicted in October, was sentenced Friday to nine to 33 years in prison on 10 counts, including kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy. He was transferred to a Nevada state prison Monday.

Stewart was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 27 years after District Attorney David Roger characterized the former mortgage broker and Simpson friend as less culpable than Simpson in the armed raid in a cramped hotel room.

Simpson had rounded up his five codefendants to help him confront Beardsley and Fromong, who he said had sports memorabilia and family heirlooms that had been stolen from him. Another memorabilia dealer who had arranged the hotel-room meeting secretly recorded the confrontation, in which threats were shouted and a gun was drawn.

State parole and probation agents recommended no prison time for McClinton, 50, of Las Vegas, who acknowledged bringing guns to the confrontation, and Cashmore, 41, of Las Vegas, the last man recruited to come along, their attorneys said. Glass sentenced Cashmore to three years of probation.

Prosecutors earlier promised to seek a suspended sentence and probation for Alexander, 47, a Simpson golfing buddy from Mesa, Ariz., who admitted taking one of McClinton's guns into the Palace Station hotel room for the Sept. 13, 2007, encounter. He received four years' probation.

"My client cooperated even before it was to his legal advantage to do so," said Alexander's lawyer, Robert Dennis Rentzer.

The judge accepted the apology of Ehrlich, 54, a Simpson friend from Miami who was the last of the four men to take a plea deal.

He apologized, he said, "for my stupidity and what I did."

"He betrayed you," Glass said of Simpson before sentencing Ehrlich to six years of probation. "But you made a choice and participated in this event."

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