LOVELOCK, Nev. – O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday after serving nearly nine years behind bars for a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas.
Simpson, 70, will walk out of Lovelock Correctional Center a free man as early as Oct. 1 – when he will have served the minimum of nine years of a 33-year maximum sentence.
The graying football great, who looked noticeably trim, hung his head and breathed a huge sigh of relief when he learned of his release. Before leaving the tiny conference room at Lovelock, he turned to profusely thank the board members one by one.
Simpson earned a unanimous vote for parole by four parole commissioners who reached their decision following a more than hour-long hearing based in Carson City, Nevada.
“You organized this crime [in] which two victims were robbed at gunpoint. It was a serious crime and there was no excuse for it. You deserved to be sent to prison,” said one of the commissioners, Tony Corda.
Corda noted, though, that Simpson has had no disciplinary record while locked up and was unlikely to commit future crimes.
“You have complied with the rules of the prison,” Corda said. “You have stable support and release plans.”
Simpson told the commissioners that, if released, he had plans to focus on his family and four kids and live in Florida with his close pal Tom Scotto, who was present at the hearing.
The board has not yet released conditions of Simpson’s parole but is expected to do so Thursday afternoon.
Commissioner Connie Bisbee warned Simpson, “We do not look kindly on parole violations, and if I cast my vote to grant and it concludes the hearing, our expectation would be that you not violate even the simplest condition of parole.”
The pro-football Hall of Famer – known as Inmate No. 1027820 — was convicted in 2008 of leading a group of armed men into a Las Vegas casino hotel to rob two sports memorabilia dealers.
Nearly 10 years later, he was still adamant that the trove of sports stuff was rightfully his to take.
“It was my property — I would never try to steal from anybody,” Simpson told the board.
At a press conference in the blistering heat outside Lovelock, his lawyer Malcolm LaVergne insisted Simpson was apologetic for the actions that landed him in prison.
“He’s taken responsibility. He was just offering an explanation,” LaVergne told reporters.
Simpson’s release comes as no surprise – he’s been a model inmate during his stint in the clink, located less than 100 miles northeast of Reno.
In deciding to parole Simpson, the commissioners considered a variety of factors, including his age, disciplinary record, past criminal record and whether he posed a threat to society.
The Heisman Trophy winner is best known for his acquittal in the 1994 double murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her pal Ron Goldman.
Additional reporting by Lia Eustachewich