Crime

A Mysterious Hollywood Script Suggests O.J. Simpson Had Company From Miami on That Fateful Night in 1994

The cover of the September 23, 2021, issue of Miami New Times
The cover of the September 23, 2021, issue of Miami New Times Photo-illustration by Alexander Flores; typewriter via Adobe Stock
There's a script circulating in Hollywood about the night of June 12, 1994. It begins in the affluent Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The narrator, an ex-con from Miami named Charlie, approaches a cottage-style mansion on Rockingham Avenue and sees O.J. Simpson chipping golf balls on the lawn behind the gate.

The man calls out "Juice!" and Simpson welcomes him through the gate.

Simpson's happy to see his friend, but Charlie's here on business. He says "Joey" sent him to collect cocaine debts, many of them related to the celebrity football player's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and more so, her best friend, Faye Resnick.

Simpson reacts with fury to being squeezed for money, and the target of that anger is Brown. He's scheduled to leave for the airport in less than an hour for a flight to Chicago, but Simpson decides he's going to confront his ex-wife at her home on Bundy Drive.


With Charlie in tow, he drives his white Ford Bronco to the alley behind Brown's home, where blood is soon spilled in great quantity.

The premise might sound preposterous. The history of that terrible night has long been seared into America's consciousness. There wasn't some Miami mob grunt with O.J. Simpson the night Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were brutally knifed to death. The Los Angeles Police Department and District Attorney's Office couldn't have missed that Simpson had an accomplice, could they?

Charlie is based on a real Miamian, Charles "Charlie" Ehrlich, an ex-drug trafficker and longtime manager at Dean's Gold, a glitzy strip club on 163rd Street and Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach. If fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth, then the script, titled Juiced, after Simpson's nickname, may shed new light on the events of that gruesome night. Or it could be an elaborate ploy to profit off one of the most notorious crimes in history.

Fact or fiction, it's one of those outlandish tales where the deeper you dig, the less crazy it seems.

Charlie

Denizens of Dean's Gold might notice a roundish, 67-year-old bald guy walking around the place like he owns it. Charles Ehrlich doesn't own the club, but he's helped run it for years.

These days, Ehrlich is head of marketing and promotion, routinely posing for social-media photos. He cozies up to exotic dancers at the bar. He flashes his grin in the parking lot with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Rob Corddry after the pair shot some scenes for an episode of the HBO show Ballerz. He shares a laugh with Dennis Rodman.

In older photos that have nothing to do with Dean's, Ehrlich smiles with his longtime friend O.J. Simpson. While his presence on the night of the murders is open for debate, he was definitely with Simpson during the sports-memorabilia robbery in Las Vegas in 2007 that landed the former football star in prison for nine years. Ehrlich was also convicted in the case but did no jail time. He still sounds defensive about it.
"O.J. did nine years for something he should have done six months for," he says.

As for his own involvement, he says he was present during the impromptu hotel-room heist only because Simpson was a friend and asked him to come along.

"I made a mistake," Ehrlich says. "I never should have been in that room. Hindsight is 20/20. It was dumb. It was stupid. I never should have been there."

He told a similar story during interviews with CNN, ABC, and other news outlets when Simpson was up for parole and eventually freed in 2017.

"If it's believed" — "it" being the 'Juiced' version of the murder — "it immediately puts [Charlie] in prison. There's no statute of limitations on murder. Hence our dilemma."

tweet this
But when it comes to the reason for this phone call — the night of June 12, 1994 — Ehrlich clams up tighter than a cherrystone.

"I don't want to go there, no disrespect," he says. "I don't want to talk about the past. That's the past. I don't want to go there."

Yet Juiced, a copy of which New Times obtained from a self-described whistleblower, is filled with information about Ehrlich's past. The script recounts a childhood in Manhattan with a stepfather tied to mobster Meyer Lansky and the underworld. After some trouble with police as a teen, he's exiled to Miami, where he quickly becomes involved in the drug trade, gets the street name "Charlie Tuna" and eventually serves time in prison before going to LA.

The script's author is a Los Angeles film producer named Erik Laibe. Reached by phone, Laibe says he optioned the story from Ehrlich about five years ago and owns the story rights for the next five years as well. He says he's still "vetting" Ehrlich's claims. He declined to speak in any detail with New Times, warning of an intellectual-property lawsuit if the paper reported on the script.

"It's an interesting mental exercise," says Laibe of trying to determine Erhlich's involvement, or lack thereof, in the murders. "What the truth is — who knows?"

Laibe points out the obvious: If Ehrlich truly was involved, he could face serious legal exposure.

"What is Charlie's motivation in all of this? Money," Laibe posits with certainty. "If it's believed" — "it" being the Juiced version of the murder — "it immediately puts [Charlie] in prison. There's no statute of limitations on murder. Hence our dilemma."

In Laibe's view, Ehrlich's presence at the murder scene with O.J. "would be the biggest embarrassment to the LAPD and District Attorney's Office in the last 50 years."

The whistleblower says it was the public import of the case that helped motivate the release of the script to New Times.

"You have to look at this story through the eyes of the victims and their families," says the source, who spoke on the condition that their name not be published. "They have a right to know, and a need to know, and there's a public-safety issue."
O.J. Simpson (left) and Charles Ehrlich (seated) in court for a preliminary hearing in Las Vegas in 2007 - PHOTO BY STEVE MARCUS/GETTY IMAGES
O.J. Simpson (left) and Charles Ehrlich (seated) in court for a preliminary hearing in Las Vegas in 2007
Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
The story of Ehrlich's life in crime is a slippery one, but parts of it are verifiable. In the script, Charlie is busted for running a cocaine operation in Atlanta. That happened to Ehrlich in 1987. The prosecutor was a young DA named Nancy Grace. The future Court TV star wrote about Ehrlich's case in her 2005 book Objection! describing him as a "major drug distributor in the city."

"When the police searched Charlie Tuna's apartment, things got even worse. They discovered that the place was wired, so he'd know if someone got in. Cops found a silencer in the closet," wrote Grace. "...This was a bad guy, and he has to be stopped from poisoning the streets of the city."

Grace won a conviction; Charlie was sent to prison. In the script, Charlie says he served seven-and-a-half years of a 27-year sentence. Upon his release in the early '90s, Charlie describes meeting with a mobster pal named Joey Ippolito, who tells him he's expanding his cocaine trafficking operation and needs someone to help him do it. Charlie jumps at the chance, but there's a catch: He'll have to relocate to Los Angeles.

The Script

In the script, Charlie describes how he helped Ippolito move cocaine from Miami to the West Coast and facilitate sales to wealthy clientele in LA.

"[D]ealing with the rich and famous moves a lot of product," Charlie narrates.

The real-life Joey Ippolito — or Joey Ipp, as he was known — was indeed operating a major cocaine organization in Los Angeles at the time. In 1993 Ippolito was convicted in an FBI investigation called Operation Lasima (short for "Los Angeles Sicilian Mafia") and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Yet Joey Ipp wasn't behind bars on the night of June 12, 1994. A month earlier, under mysterious circumstances, he was able to "walk away" from a federal prison camp in Pensacola, according to published reports.

It's clear that Ippolito had ties to Simpson. The Boston Herald reported after the murders that the feds were aware of a relationship between Ippolito and Al Cowlings, Simpson's close friend and the driver of the white Bronco in the infamous slow-speed police chase that preceded Simpson's arrest. From the beginning, some suspected the murders may have been cocaine-related. During the trial, lead defense lawyer Johnnie Cochran posited a theory, without mentioning Ippolito by name, that Brown may have been killed by drug dealers in order to frighten her friend Faye Resnick, who was admittedly addicted to cocaine at that time. But the overwhelming DNA evidence of Simpson's own culpability in the murder made such speculation seem immaterial.

In the script, Charlie meets Simpson at the Rockingham estate while working for Ippolito and the two become friends. In the narration, Charlie says Ippolito uses O.J. for "contacts" and that while Simpson isn't a drug dealer, Ippolito "takes care of him for let's just say facilitating deals."

"I don't want to go there, no disrespect. I don't want to talk about the past. That's the past. I don't want to go there."

tweet this
The script has Charlie going to Simpson's house on June 12, 1994, to squeeze him for cocaine debts, sending the former NFL great into a rage.

"If it's about paying, the complication is that bitch Faye [Resnick]," the script has Simpson saying.

As his anger builds, O.J. tells Charlie the two of them are going to drive the Bronco to Nicole's condo and "putting this on her." Cut to Nicole's house: two bodies, a "pool of dark liquid," and a bloody O.J. stripping off his clothes and handing them and the knife to a "mystery man."

Charlie the narrator says he'll never reveal whether he is the mystery man, saying only, "[t]hat night tied Juice and me together for the rest of our lives."

Charlie also mentions Simpson's controversial 2007 book, If I Did It.

"I can't add anything to that," says the narrator.

In If I Did It, a quasi-confessional he characterized as a "hypothetical" account of the murders, Simpson writes that he couldn't have pulled off the crime by himself. He even provides a first name of his accomplice: Charlie.

The Book

Having secured a not-guilty verdict in the murder case, Simpson is insulated against further prosecution by the Fifth Amendment's double jeopardy clause. The fact that he couldn't be charged with the crime again might have helped embolden him to tell his hypothetical version of the murders in If I Did It, for which he reportedly received $3.5 million.

In the book, Simpson writes that he'd recently befriended "Charlie" because he was "always in a good mood, always laughing." He says that on the night of the murders, Charlie came to his house but, unlike in the Juiced version, it wasn't about cocaine debts. Instead, Charlie was there to share gossip he'd heard that night about Brown and Faye Resnick having a "kinky," drug-filled adventure in Cabo. Furious at the news, Simpson decides Brown is "the enemy" and goes to Brentwood with Charlie intending to read his ex "the fucking riot act."

Simpson describes sitting with Charlie in the Bronco outside Nicole's condo, putting on a cap and gloves, and showing Charlie a knife he keeps under the driver's seat. Charlie snatches the knife away and Simpson leaves the vehicle alone to confront Nicole. He walks into the courtyard, sees Ron Goldman, and becomes consumed with jealousy and rage. As he confronts Goldman, Charlie approaches, still holding the knife, and attempts to calm Simpson.
The most infamous mugshot of the 1990s - PHOTO VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The most infamous mugshot of the 1990s
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Nicole comes outside and she and Simpson argue about Goldman. A physical altercation ensues and Nicole falls, hitting her head on the ground. As she lies unmoving, Simpson snatches the knife from Charlie and turns back to Goldman. At that point in the hypothetical account, Simpson blacks out.

When he comes to, he's on his feet amid the carnage. He strips to his underwear and bundles the knife and shoes in the bloody clothes. A shell-shocked Charlie accompanies Simpson on the short drive back to Rockingham, where a limousine will take him to the airport for his flight to Chicago.

The book describes Simpson bypassing his own house to avoid the limo driver's gaze and stopping at nearby Bristol Avenue instead. Before sneaking through a neighbor's property onto his own, Simpson gives Charlie the keys to the Bronco and tells him to drop it on Rockingham when the limo leaves. He also hands Charlie the bundled clothes and knife.

"I don't give a fuck how you get rid of it, but make sure it disappears," Simpson tells Charlie in If I Did It. "You hear? It needs to disappear forever."

The Case

The knife and clothes, of course, were never recovered and Simpson's narrative of leaving the Bronco with Charlie on Bristol Avenue could explain a long-unresolved mystery of the case: The limo driver, Allan Park, testified he didn't see the Bronco when he picked up Simpson that night. Park did testify that as he was waiting for Simpson, he saw a shadowy figure vaguely matching Simpson's description walking across the lawn and entering the house.

But even if someone was with Simpson that night, which is certainly plausible, was it Charlie Ehrlich? He may have promised never to tell, but he cagily offers that the screenplay contains some untruths.

"There's a lot of false shit in there," Ehrlich says. "That's why I ended the relationship with the individual who was the ghostwriter. He put in his own bullshit."

(Not that Ehrlich can be considered a reliable narrator when it comes to his interactions with the press. In 2016, he told a Las Vegas TV affiliate he didn’t think Simpson committed the murders and that the two had met for the first time in 2001.)

At any rate, Ehrlich says his deal with Laibe is null and void.

Laibe says that's false.

"Nobody has my rights," Ehrlich insists. "[The deal] was never finished."

Of course, when it comes to the Simpson case, nothing ever seems quite finished. Simpson himself recently told The Athletic that despite the evidence against him and his own veiled confession in If I Did It, he avoids LA to this day because he's afraid to meet the real killer.

The Los Angeles Police Department would not comment about Ehrlich's possible involvement in the case. Public information officer Tony Im says that if a formal complaint were to be lodged, the department would look into it.

"The case is closed," Im adds. "We're not going to reopen that case."

The whistleblower insists that reopening the case is precisely what the LAPD ought to do — if for no other reason than to exclude the possibility that someone named Charlie was present at the scene of the murders.

"If this guy was there, then someone should do something," the source says. "Whether they're a reporter, an investigator, law enforcement, Hollywood studio executive — someone should do something."
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman