LOS ANGELES – The Goldman family thought they had reached a turning point earlier this week in their decade-long battle to collect a $35 million civil judgment from O.J. Simpson.

A Santa Monica judge ordered the former football star to turn over his gold submariner Rolex watch, estimated to be worth between $12,000 and $22,000, to the family.

But Simpson gave them a fake. The luxury timepiece was a knock-off made in China, worth about $125.

“It was made by the finest craftsmen in China,” said David Cook, the Goldman family attorney who plans to return the watch to Simpson. “It’s a people’s Rolex.”

Simpson is currently making headlines after being charged with armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from a Sept. 13 incident at a downtown Las Vegas hotel. Authorities accuse him and five other men of bursting into a hotel room at gunpoint to steal signed footballs and other items from memorabilia dealers.

But the Santa Monica case involves the slaying of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, but a jury later found him liable for the killings and ordered that he pay $33.5 million. The Goldmans, however, have collected barely anything.

The Goldmans went to court in Santa Monica seeking proceeds from Simpson’s memorabilia and other items, including the Rolex, although Simpson’s civil attorney, Ronald P. Slates, had warned that the watch was of suspicious origins .

The judge eventually ruled that the watch could be sold and the Las Vegas memora bilia would be frozen pending order of the court.

Cook, based in San Francisco, said he took the watch to the Bay Area jeweler, which notified him, as he put it, that the timepiece was “value disabled.”

Despite the watch’s dubious lineage, Cook said that he had received a $10,000 offer to buy it.

But in court papers, Judge Gerald Rosenberg nixed the suggestion, ordering Cook to turn it over to Simpson’s attorney.

AP-NY-10-05-07 2056EDT


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