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Judge scolds Simpson and doubles bail in Vegas case

Times Staff Writer

A judge Wednesday castigated O.J. Simpson for violating the terms of his bail by trying to contact a codefendant in his armed robbery case, and doubled the former football star’s bail to $250,000.

“I don’t know, Mr. Simpson, what the heck you were thinking, or maybe that’s the problem -- you weren’t,” District Judge Jackie Glass said. ". . . I don’t know if it’s just arrogance. I don’t know if it’s ignorance. But you’ve been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday because of arrogance or ignorance or both.”

Simpson, 60, has been charged with taking hundreds of sports collectibles at gunpoint from two memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. He has said most of the items were stolen from him, and he has denied guns were involved in the incident.

The NFL Hall of Fame running back, who is facing the possibility of life in prison, and two codefendants have pleaded not guilty. Their trial is scheduled for April.

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When Glass asked whether Simpson -- who was handcuffed and wearing navy jail garb -- understood court orders issued in September not to contact anyone involved in the case, he replied: “I understand 100%, your honor,” his voice catching slightly.

Simpson posted bond Wednesday night. His attorney, Yale Galanter, said Simpson’s friends had put up his bail money.

Simpson was in court because, shortly after his November preliminary hearing, he left a message for his bail bondsman regarding codefendant Clarence J. Stewart Jr.

“I just want, want C.J. to know that . . . I’m tired of this [expletive],” Simpson said, according to court papers. “Fed up with [expletive] changing what they told me. All right?”

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Prosecutor Christopher Owens argued Wednesday that Simpson was trying to interfere in negotiations with his codefendants and asked that Simpson be placed under house arrest and that his bail be revoked or set at $1 million.

“I think he thinks this is a joke and he can do whatever he wants to do,” Owens said.

Miguel Pereira of You Ring We Spring bail bonds told prosecutors about the message only in recent weeks. He took Simpson into custody last week in Florida.

Pereira testified Wednesday that Simpson owed him more than $18,000 for the bond he posted in November, but said he had never billed the former Heisman Trophy winner.

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But Galanter questioned Pereira’s motivation for turning over Simpson’s voice mail. The bondsman, Galanter said, had promotional pens made that said his business was “O.J.'s Way Out.”

“Mr. Pereira is a piranha,” Galanter told reporters outside the courthouse.

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ashley.powers@latimes.com

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