September 22, 2008

O.J. Witness Says Media Paid Him

A key witness in the Las Vegas kidnapping-armed robbery trial of O.J. Simpson testified Monday he was paid for media interviews about the incident.

Thomas Riccio, the auctioneer who set up a meeting between Simpson and sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, said in court Friday he received at least $210,000 from several media organizations in exchange for interviews and audio of the incident in which Simpson allegedly robbed two memorabilia dealers at gunpoint.

Riccio recorded the planning and executive of a so-called sting operation intended to help Simpson recover mementos including footballs and family photos. He testified that the celebrity news Web site paid him $150,000 for audio clips, that ABC News paid him $15,000 for an interview and that the TV show "Entertainment Tonight" paid him $25,000 for an interview, The New York Times reported Monday.

Representatives for ABC News and "Entertainment Tonight" said payments were not for interviews, but for rights to use the audio, the newspaper said. A representative for would not comment.

Simpson faces a possible life sentence if convicted. Four of his alleged accomplices pleaded guilty and are expected to testify at the trial.