A key witness in the O.J. Simpson trial, auctioneer Thomas Riccio, said during questioning yesterday that he was paid $15,000 by ABC News (and even more from Entertainment Tonight, TMZ.com and the Howard Stern Show) for audio recordings of the alleged robbery at the Palace Station casino last summer.
Riccio testified that while ABC News would not pay for an interview, the network said, “OK, we’ll pay you for that” when Riccio offered to sell the network photos of he and Simpson before the incident.
ABC News acknowledges paying $15,000 for audiotapes and photos, but denies Riccio’s account of the story. ABC SVP of communications Jeffrey Schneider tells TVNewser Good Morning America, “wanted more than a minute of the tapes, and lawyers told them they would not have a fair use case if they exceeded one minute.”
GMA received “exclusive morning show rights” to the material through the deal.
Schneider says Riccio was interviewed on GMA because “we wanted him to verify what was on the tapes,” since some of the material was hard to make out.