OJ Simpson freed to parole after 9 years for Vegas robbery
LAS VEGAS — Former football legend O.J. Simpson became a free man Sunday after serving nine years for a botched hotel room heist that brought prison time he avoided after his 1995 acquittal in the killings of his ex-wife and her friend.
Simpson was released at 12:08 a.m. PDT from Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada, state prisons spokeswoman Brooke Keast told The Associated Press. She said she didn’t know immediately where Simpson was headed, adding that an unidentified driver met him and took him to an undisclosed location.
“I don’t have any information on where he’s going,” said Keast, who watched Simpson in blue jeans, denim jacket and ball cap signing documents before his release.
Her department released a brief video on social media of Simpson being told to “come on out” by a prison staffer. He responded “OK,” walked through an open door and into the pre-dawn darkness just minutes into the first day a parole board set for his possible release.
Tom Scotto, a Simpson friend who lives in Naples, Florida, said by text message an hour later that he was with Simpson, but did not answer texts asking where they were going or whether members of Simpson’s family were with them.
Along with Simpson’s sister and daughter, Scotto had attended the July parole hearing at the same prison where Simpson served his time.
Simpson has said he wanted to move back to Florida, where he lived before his armed robbery conviction in Las Vegas in a September 2007 confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers. But Florida prison officials indicated Sunday morning his return did not appear imminent.
Florida’s Corrections Department “has not received any transfer paperwork from Nevada” about Simpson, spokeswoman Ashley Cook said.
Though Florida’s attorney general has urged the department to object to Simpson’s return, the department previously has said it would be required to accept a transfer if the request met certain criteria.
Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, and state Parole and Probation Capt. Shawn Arruti, who has been handling Simpson’s case, did not respond to messages Sunday seeking comment.
LaVergne said recently that Simpson was looking forward to reuniting with his family, eating a steak and some seafood and moving back to Florida. Simpson also plans to get an iPhone and get reacquainted with technology that was in its infancy when he was sent to prison in 2008, his attorney said.
Keast said the overnight release from the prison about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Reno, Nevada, was conducted to avoid media attention.
“We needed to do this to ensure public safety and to avoid any possible incident,” Keast added.