Simpson charged with kidnapping, robbery in Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, Sep 18 (Reuters) Former football star O J Simpson was charged with kidnapping, conspiracy and armed robbery today in what authorities say was the theft at gunpoint of his sports memorabilia at a Las Vegas hotel.

Simpson, who was acquitted in 1995 after a sensational double murder trial, and three co-defendants faced a total of 11 charges.

Simpson could go to prison for decades if he is convicted.

The charges stem from what police say was an armed confrontation last Thursday between the defendants and sports memorabilia dealers in a room at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The 60-year-old star athlete turned actor was arrested on Sunday and has been held without bail pending his first court appearance on Wednesday morning.

At that hearing, Simpson will be advised of the charges against him and his attorneys were expected to ask a judge to set bail.

The case has touched off a media furor reminiscent of Simpson's ''trial of the century.'' 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.

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 with a gun.

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.

After he was acquitted of murder in a criminal court in 1995, a civil court jury found Simpson responsible for the deaths and ordered him to pay .5 million in damages to their families.

REUTERS RC BST0334

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