Before he probably butchered his wife. Before the “Chase.” Before the decade in prison he did for an armed robbery in Las Vegas to steal back memorabilia he believed had been boosted from him in the first place.
O.J. Simpson, 72, was at the center of two state drug probes during his NFL playing days with the Buffalo Bills in the 1970s. The company the Hall of Fame running back and corporate pitchman kept sucked him into the multiple inquiries (one by the Buffalo Police Department and another from the New York State Police), neither of which bore any fruit nor led to any charges. These revelations were first reported by the Buffalo press 25 years ago, around the time he was a nightly-news staple for allegedly carving up his wife in a fit of jealous rage.
When he played for the Bills, the “Juice” was known for hobnobbing his way through the Buffalo nightlife scene with reputed drug dealers and mob associates and attracted the attention of law enforcement because of it. Two of Simpson’s favorite hangouts were reportedly tied to the Buffalo mafia: Club 747 at the Executive Hotel, across the street from the airport, and Mulligan’s, the trendiest club in Western New York at the peak of the disco era, located on Hertel Avenue and hailed as Buffalo’s own version of the uber-hip Studio 54 in Manhattan.
The Executive Inn was owned by the Cosentino family, long rumored to be mob affiliated. Mulligan’s was owned by Mike Militello, a slick, handsome war hero who was the prince of the city in the 1970s and 1980s, Simpson’s best friend not on the Bills and a person the Buffalo police believed, at least for a period of time, was a major cocaine dealer and mafia associate.
The 72-year old Militello has always denied having anything to do with narcotics trafficking or the mob, although he admitted in a radio interview in the 1990s that he and Simpson engaged in cocaine use together in their younger days. Simpson was Militello’s best man at his wedding. Police tried unsuccessfully to prove that Militello sold drugs to Buffalo pro athletes on the Bills (NFL), Sabers (NHL) and Braves (NBA) using Simpson as his middle man and his club as a distribution point.
Mulligan’s was the place to be and be seen in Buffalo, attracting a fast crowd of movers and shakers, politicians, celebrities and gangsters. On October 5, 1974, low-level mob burglar Frankie D’Angelo was gunned down leaving Mulligan’s for allegedly neglecting to kick-up tribute to the Magaddino crime family. One of the Magaddino clan’s nerve center was less than a mile away from Mulligan’s at the Fallmark Social Club.
Another Buffalo nightclub frequented by Simpson in the 1970s was Casey’s Nickelodeon owned by drug kingpin and mob associate Casimir (Butch Casey) Sucharski. During an April 1975 police raid of Militello’s ritzy apartment on Delaware Avenue – famous for lavish “after-parties” attended by the Buffalo social elite, Sucharski was arrested for possession of cocaine, marijuana and two guns. Simpson had left just departed the premises minutes prior to the police hitting the door on Militello’s place, possibly via a tip from one of Militello’s many political or law enforcement contacts. Militello wasn’t present at the apartment either when the raid occurred.
Simpson’s Miami home was searched by DEA agents on December 5, 2001 as part of an investigation into an international Ecstasy club-drug ring. No pills were found in the raid, but four bags of marijuana and cocaine residue was discovered. Three members of the drug ring told the DEA in plea agreements of socializing with Simpson at his home and on the South Beach nightclub scene and that Simpson often purchased Ecstasy and cocaine from them.
Back in the 1970s, Simpson was one of the most recognizable and beloved celebrities in America, both the No. 1 tailback in the NFL and the face of the Hertz Rent-A-Car company on television – he had shot to stardom as a Heisman Trophy winner at USC years earlier. After his retirement from football in 1979, he returned to California and transitioned into acting and sports broadcasting and despite a number of documented instances of domestic violence and being investigated by the FBI for bookmaking, was able to maintain his popularity and a positive public image.
That was until the early summer of 1994.
On the night June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were stabbed to death outside Brown Simpson’s Los Angeles condo. Less than a week later, Simpson was charged with the double homicide and on June 17, led police on a nationally-televised low-speed chase in his white-colored Bronco that captured the attention of the entire world. At the wheel of the Bronco that day was Simpson’s confidant, childhood friend and college and pro teammate Al (A.C.) Cowlings, who helped convince him not to commit suicide.
It was Cowlings who introduced Simpson to Mike Militello during their days as teammates with the Buffalo Bills. Militello and Cowlings supported Simpson at his heavily-publicized marathon trial in 1995 ending in a controversial not guilty verdict. Days following Simpson’s arrest in June 1994, his and Militello’s one-time buddy from Buffalo, Butch Casey Sucharski was slain in a triple homicide in Miramar, Florida.
Simpson was arrested in September 2007 for an armed robbery in at the Palace Station hotel and casino in Las Vegas where he and other stuck up memorabilia brokers he believed were selling items stolen from him. He was convicted at a 2008 trial and sentenced to 33 years in a Nevada state prison, but he only nine, getting released in October 2017.
This article was originally posted here