Defiant OJ insists: I won't pay a penny of $33m compensation to victims' families

John Hiscock
Thursday 25 November 2004 01:00

A defiant O J Simpson has vowed he will never pay the families of the murder victims Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman a penny of the $33.5m (£20m) damages they were awarded.

The former American football star-turned actor said in a television interview: "I've said this so many times ... If I have to work to pay them, I won't work. It's that simple. I'll just play golf every day."

Mr Simpson was acquitted of killing his former wife and her friend Mr Goldman in 1994 after a year-long criminal trial, but in 1997 a civil jury found him liable for their deaths. So far, the families have received only a fraction of the multimillion-dollar judgment despite efforts to trace any assets Mr Simpson may have.

In a court hearing in Santa Monica this week, a longtime friend of Simpson, Alfred Beardsley, was questioned about what he knew of Mr Simpson's assets. He was ordered to produce two press credentials issued to Mr Simpson to cover the 1984 Olympics for a television network - value unknown. Mr Beardsley told Judge Gerald Rosenberg he had been holding the press cards in a safe-deposit box and did not know how much they were worth.

The hearing was part of a continuing effort by Mr Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, to force Mr Simpson to pay the judgement. His lawyer, Peter Csato, said: "Mr Simpson did a very effective job of protecting his assets. It's my belief he hasn't been fully candid." Mr Csato had subpoenaed Mr Beardsley in the hope of learning whether Simpson was hiding income from autograph signings or similar events.

Simpson is living in Florida on $25,000 a month income from a football pension and an annuity that is exempt from court judgments.

In February 1999, a court-ordered auction of Simpson memorabilia fetched about $430,000 that was to go towards paying the civil judgment, but only "a fraction" went to the families, said Michael Brewer, the lawyer for Ron Goldman's mother, Sharon Rufo. The rest paid the costs of the auction and lawyers' fees, he said.

The items sold included Mr Simpson's 1968 Heisman Trophy - awarded to the best college footballer of the year - for $255,000, a pair of football jerseys, including one bearing Mr Simpson's autograph, for $4,750, two Tiffany-style lamps for $8,050 each and a painting of a girl given to Mr Simpson by the singer Donna Summer for $6,325.

Mr Brewer will question Mr Beardsley further at another court hearing next month. "I think there's been some information Mr Simpson may not have been above board in relation to his business assets," he said. "He's living in Florida in a relatively nice, comfortable lifestyle. He's got to step up to the plate and settle these judgments."

It is not the first time lawyers have tried to collect the debt. About seven months ago, the Goldman family hired a lawyer to recover money they thought Mr Simpson was getting for autographs at a signing session in St Louis, Missouri, but Mr Simpson claimed he had not been charging for his signature.

Mr Brewer said the families believed Mr Simpson "earned money and may have secreted it out of St Louis".

Mr Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Mr Goldman, a waiter, were stabbed to death on the patio outside her townhouse in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Mr Simpson was arrested the next day after a televised police chase in which he drove around Los Angeles freeways in a white Ford Bronco before returning to his home. Prosecutors had claimed Mr Simpson committed the murders in a jealous rage.

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