Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 9:42 am in Uncategorized.
By LINDA DEUTSCH
AP Special Correspondent
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A memorabilia dealer who profited from O.J. Simpson for many years is the latest former crony to write a tell-all book, this one alleging a groggy Simpson, high on marijuana, confessed to killing his ex-wife after he was acquitted.
Mike Gilbert also claims he helped his former friend wiggle out of the murder charges by suggesting how to bloat his hands so they wouldn’t fit the notorious bloody gloves.
Gilbert’s book, “How I Helped O.J. Get Away With Murder: The Shocking Inside Story of Violence, Loyalty, Regret and Remorse” (Regnery Publishing, 232 pages, $27.95), is due in stores Monday. It was released to The Associated Press in advance.
He said Simpson had smoked pot, took a sleeping pill and was drinking beer when he confided at his Brentwood home weeks after his trial what happened the night of June 12, 1994. Simpson said he went to his ex-wife’s condominium, but did not bring a knife with him. Simpson told him Nicole Brown Simpson had one in her hand when she opened the door.
In a soft mumble, Simpson told him: “If she hadn’t opened that door with a knife in her hand … she’d still be alive.”
“Nothing more needed to be said,” Gilbert writes. “O.J. had confessed to me. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death at the entrance to her condominium. The knife was never found.
Simpson’s current lawyer Yale Galanter said none of Gilbert’s claims are true and that Gilbert is “a delusional drug addict who needs money. He’s fallen on very hard times. He is in trouble with the IRS.”
“I’ve talked to O.J. about it,” said Galanter, who refused to allow Simpson to comment directly because of his upcoming robbery trial in Las Vegas. “This stuff not only didn’t occur but it’s not factually supported by the evidence.”
The name calling and accusations on both sides showed that deep wounds persist.
In a phone interview, Gilbert called Galanter “an ambulance chaser and an enabler and denier for O.J. I know. I used to do the same thing. I understand the game.”
He acknowledged he has IRS problems which he says were caused by Simpson but said, “I could take a drug test and pass it. I highly doubt that O.J. could.”
Gilbert is the second sports memorabilia dealer to write a Simpson book this year. Thomas Riccio, who arranged a Las Vegas memorabilia sale that led to Simpson’s armed robbery arrest, penned “Busted” last month.
Simpson himself participated in the controversial book, “If I Did It,” which he claimed was not a confession. It was withdrawn by the publisher and eventually released last year by the Goldman family to help satisfy a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment.
Gilbert said he continued to represent Simpson for another decade after the alleged confession, hawking items with his autograph, hiding the profits and helping Simpson shield his possessions so they could not be seized by the Goldman family.
Gilbert also claims that he counseled the jailed Simpson during his murder trial to stop taking his arthritis medicine so his hands would swell up and not fit the bloody gloves in court. He offers no proof Simpson followed his advice or that he was taking any medicine, but the drama that played out in court when the gloves didn’t fit was central to Simpson’s defense.
The prosecutors in Simpson’s murder trial, Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, could not immediately be reached for comment on Gilbert’s claims.
Former Gilbert partner Bruce Fromong, who was involved in the Vegas incident, said Gilbert is known for spinning tall tales.
“Mike makes up a lot of great stories,” said Fromong. “Mike Gilbert has a ton of skeletons in his closet. He’s as dirty as anyone.”
Gilbert said he broke with Simpson two years ago because he felt cheated, didn’t approve of his lifestyle and was repulsed by “If I Did It.” He writes that he was guided to do his own the book by dreams in which he saw the ghosts of his dead grandmother and of Nicole Brown Simpson.
He refers to himself in the book as a “Judas,” and says he is betraying Simpson because he’s ashamed of what he did and wants to soothe his conscience. He responded to Fromong’s criticism by saying he’s made mistakes and isn’t trying to clean up his image with the book.
He writes that he was not alone in helping Simpson beat the murder charges, but “I hope to be the first to finally confess.”
Gilbert said he funneled money from autograph signing appearances to Simpson under the table so the Goldman family could not get it. Gilbert said he paid Simpson 80 percent, kept 20 percent but had to pay taxes on the whole amount. He said Simpson repeatedly told him they’d settle up later.
But they never did and when pushed Simpson reminded him of the Goldman debt: “Hey, at least you don’t owe $33.5 million.”
“Yeah, I didn’t kill anybody either,” Gilbert replied. Simpson scowled.
He offers apologies to the dead Nicole Simpson, whom he said he never liked, and to the Goldman family.
“He offers an apology for money laundering?” said Goldman attorney David Cook. “I don’t think we want the apology. I think we need the money. Send us a check, not an I’m sorry.”
He said he plans to use the book as a treasure map to Simpson’s hidden assets.
Gilbert, 53, was a childhood fan of Simpson who was thrilled when another client, football great Marcus Allen, introduced them and they began doing business together.
Gilbert wrote in his book that he was admitted to a world of privilege and he got caught up in a power trip in which he believed he was better than “ordinary people.”
Gilbert blames himself and other Simpson friends for failing to act when they detected domestic violence in the Simpson marriage. But he says each time there was a fight between the couple or a call by Nicole to police it was dismissed as part of their obsession with each other or they pretended it didn’t happen.
“O.J. mattered more,” he said. “The fringe benefits that came with being one of O.J.’s friends mattered more — or at least we thought they did.”
Gilbert wrote the book for many reasons. It wasn’t just to make money or hurt Simpson.
“Nothing can hurt O.J.,” he said in an interview. “He doesn’t have the emotions we have.”
In a chapter on the Las Vegas case, he acknowledges that Simpson was in search of memorabilia he believed Gilbert stole from him, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted.
“I never sold the suit, not even when I was dead broke,” he writes. “At least that’s something small to be proud of.”
But Gilbert does acknowledge that he unsuccessfully tried to sell the suit at one point — before he sold his book.
Associated Press Writer John Rogers contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.