O.J. Simpson returned home to Miami on Thursday, a day after an angry Las Vegas judge doubled his bail but allowed him to stay out of jail while he awaits trial on armed robbery.
Tom Scotto, who coordinated with four other friends to raise Simpson’s bail, greeted Simpson after his arrival at Miami International Airport and escorted him to a waiting sport utility vehicle. Neither man spoke to reporters before the vehicle departed from the airport.
When Scotto talked to Simpson the night before the bail revocation hearing, “He said, ’Pray for me.’ That’s a first. He was really nervous she wasn’t going to let him out.”
Simpson, 60, posted bond and was released from jail just after 11 p.m. Wednesday. He walked out by himself, got into a white Mercedes and was driven away without speaking to the media.
The former football star was picked up last Friday in Florida by a bail bondsman and taken back to Nevada for violating terms of his release.
He had been ordered to have no contact with co-defendants or witnesses after he was freed on bail in September on charges of orchestrating the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers at a hotel room.
But he found himself before a judge again Wednesday because he mentioned co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart while leaving a sputtering, foul-mouthed phone message two months ago for his bail bondsman, Miguel Pereira of You Ring We Spring.
Judge chastises him
“I don’t know, Mr. Simpson, what the heck you were thinking, or maybe that’s the problem — you weren’t,” Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass said.
In the message, Simpson asked Pereira to tell Stewart how frustrated he was about testimony during a preliminary hearing several days earlier.
"I just want, want C.J. to know that ... I'm tired of this (expletive)," Simpson said, according to a transcript. "Fed up with (expletives) changing what they told me. All right?"
Though there was no indication Stewart received the message, prosecutor Chris Owens suggested it was threatening. The judge merely said she didn't like the tone.
"I don't know if it's just arrogance. I don't know if it's ignorance," she said. "But you've been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday because of arrogance or ignorance — or both."
Simpson, wearing a dark jail shirt and pants with orange slippers, grimaced as Glass announced she was doubling his bail.
"Let me make sure that you understand that if you violate those rules and anything like this happens in future it won't matter what (defense lawyers) tell me, you'll be back locked up," Glass added.
He spoke only when asked if he understood the terms.
"Yes, your honor," he said evenly.
Defense attorney Yale Galanter accused Pereira of providing Simpson's bail for the publicity.
"You wanted some notoriety for your company," Galanter said, noting that Pereira had been handing out pens embossed with the name of his company and the words, "O.J.'s way out."
Pereira called Simpson's lawyer "a shark." He also said he gave prosecutors audio recordings of conversations he had with Simpson last Friday while escorting him.
The recordings contain "self admissions to things that were committed," Pereira said late Wednesday. He said he could not provide details "because there's an investigation pending."
A spokesman for Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined to comment.
Galanter denied that Simpson made self-incriminating statements and said defense lawyers knew Pereira was recording Simpson.
"I think the tapes will speak for themselves," Galanter said.
Galanter stipulated during the hearing that Simpson made the call, though he insisted to reporters that Simpson wasn't trying to contact the co-defendant. In court, the lawyer didn't contest the issue.
"I think you need to pick and choose your battles carefully," Galanter said. "I needed to ensure my client would go home."
Glass told Simpson to post his bond, go back to Florida and return April 7 for his trial in an episode strange even by Las Vegas standards.
Simpson was accused of leading a group of men to a hotel room where memorabilia dealers were peddling collectibles associated with Simpson, including the suit he wore the day he was acquitted in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. He said he wanted to retrieve family heirlooms and photographs, including one of him with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
The memorabilia dealers claimed guns were pulled. The man who arranged the meeting made an audiotape of the incident, and one of the dealers contacted a syndicated TV show before calling police. It was not the first brush with law enforcement for most of the men in the room.
Simpson, Stewart and Charles Ehrlich pleaded not guilty Nov. 28 to kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, coercion and conspiracy charges. An armed robbery conviction carries mandatory prison time. A kidnapping conviction could bring a life sentence with the possibility of parole.
Three other former co-defendants have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and testified against Simpson.
Galanter said he was ordering his client to talk to no one but him and co-counsel Gabriel Grasso.