Simpson jailed as 'flight risk' amid US media frenzy

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LAS VEGAS, Sep 17 (Reuters) Former football star O J Simpson, acquitted in a sensational double murder trial in 1995, was being held without bail today after being jailed and accused of armed theft of his own sports souvenirs from memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room.

Simpson was arrested yesterday on suspicion of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and burglary.

An expletive-laden audiotape surfaced today in which Simpson was apparently heard issuing threats.

The football player-turned actor was denied bail because he was considered a possible flight risk and had no ties to the local community, Clark County Judge Nancy Oesterle said.

He was due in court on Wednesday and could seek bail then, Oesterle told a throng of reporters outside a Las Vegas courthouse in a scene reminiscent of the murder trial in which the star athlete was found innocent of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

''I guess this is what they call a media frenzy,'' said Oesterle, who was appointed to handle media issues surrounding the case.

Chief Las Vegas prosecutor David Roger said his office would file a criminal complaint against Simpson and his co-defendants in the coming days and promised he would be treated fairly.

''While this case is certainly attracting more attention from the media than our other cases, we will treat this case with the same professionalism we afford all the cases we prosecute,'' Roger said.

A court spokesman said Simpson would likely be taken from the jail to the courthouse in an underground tunnel for the hearing and special arrangements were being made to accommodate the dozens of reporters seeking to attend.

'NOBODY OUT OF THIS ROOM' Police have not accused Simpson of brandishing a firearm in the confrontation but he could still be convicted of participating in an armed robbery if one or more of the men said to have been with him was threatening dealers.

Las Vegas police have arrested another man they believe was with Simpson during the incident and said they were searching for four others.

An audiotape of the incident, reportedly made by one of the dealers, was released on Monday by the celebrity Web site TMZ.com. In the recording, a man said to be Simpson is heard saying: ''Don't let nobody out of this room ... Think you can steal my shit and sell it?'' Las Vegas police have arrested another man they believe was with Simpson during the incident and said they were searching for four others.

Simpson has told reporters he did nothing wrong and was merely trying to retrieve his own collectibles, personal photos, his Hall of Fame certificate and other items he said had been stolen by a former sports agent.

A second sports collector, Bruce Fromong, who was in the hotel room during the incident, told ABC's ''Good Morning America'' that Simpson never held a gun.

''The door burst open, and in came, running in, almost commando-style, O J Simpson and some of his people, with guns drawn,'' Fromong said. ''And O J at that time was saying, 'I want my stuff. I want my stuff'.'' ''The thing in my mind as soon as I saw him, I'm thinking, 'O J, how can you be this dumb?','' Fromong said. ''He didn't need to be there.'' Simpson was a record-setting running back in the National Football League nicknamed ''The Juice'' who parlayed that fame into a career in movies and television.

After he was acquitted of murder in a criminal court, a civil court jury found Simpson responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay 33.5 million dollar in damages to their families.

REUTERS RC BST0228

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