Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal / AP
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 | 2:10 p.m.
An East Naples man and longtime friend of O.J. Simpson says there are "several options" where the former football star could live once he is released from a Nevada prison in October but that he hopes Simpson will live with him in his rental property off Davis Boulevard.
"There's nothing preventing it," Tom Scotto said Monday when asked if there were any hurdles Simpson had to overcome before moving to Briar Landings on Wildwood Lakes Boulevard.
Scotto, who says he's been friends with Simpson for 23 years and was one of three people allowed to attend the July 20 parole hearing in Nevada with the former star running back, said the four-bedroom rental is "bigger than a house, basically" but that he plans on buying a property to build a home there.
"He'll stay at the rental, but that's why I'm trying to buy property," Scotto said. "I would like to buy a wooded lot."
When Simpson is released, which could be as soon as Oct. 1, Scotto said he plans on picking up his friend with a private jet and flying him to Miami to see his parole officer.
From there the duo want to fly to California for a few weeks to head to Simpson's sister's house and visit his relatives' graves, Scotto said.
"Stop at all the places, all the graves," he said, adding that Simpson plans to go to ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson's resting place, too.
Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman but was acquitted by a jury following a highly publicized trial in 1995. Two years later a civil jury found him responsible for the killings and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman.
Last week a Nevada parole board granted Simpson's October release, which will make the former college and pro football star a free man for the first time since 2007, when he was arrested for a Las Vegas robbery that led to him being sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison and a maximum of 33 years.
Simpson was in Las Vegas the weekend he was arrested to be best man at Scotto's wedding.
Scotto said he already spoke to his East Naples community's homeowners association and said it didn't have any objections to Simpson's potential move to Briar Landings.
"They have no problem with that," Scotto said. "They love me in the office."
A request for comment to two Briar Landings community association spokeswomen was not immediately returned Monday.
Scotto said he and Simpson, 70, are like family.
"We just clicked immediately,"Scotto said. "I took him to my favorite restaurant, which is the Capital Grille."
The two used to travel and spend holidays together, Scotto said.
"I was always with him," he said.
Scotto, who said he has lived in Collier for about 1 1/2 years, has a son who runs an automobile body repair shop on Mercantile Avenue, called Anthony's Auto Body & Refinishing.
"I travel a lot," Scotto said. "But the majority I spend in Collier. It's like my home base."
Where exactly Simpson will end up could be determined in the coming weeks.
The Nevada department of parole and probation has not received Simpson's release packet from the parole board but should get it soon, said Debe Williams, specialist III in the pre-release unit of the department.
"We should be getting it any day, to be honest," she said.
Once Simpson's documents are received, they will be sent to the Florida Department of Corrections, which has 45 days to approve his residence, Williams said.
If Florida officials don't approve Simpson's new address, "he would have to come up with another residence," she said.
One possibility for the residence to be denied would be if the sponsor doesn't want to house Simpson, Williams said. Simpson has to live with a sponsor and cannot live alone, she added.
The Florida Department of Corrections is aware of Simpson's "potential relocation to Florida," Michelle Glady, a spokeswoman for the department, said in a statement Thursday.
"As is the case with any offender who transfers under this routine procedure, he will be assigned a Florida probation officer and will be supervised in accordance with the conditions of his parole," the statement continued.
Wherever Simpson ends up, Scotto plans on being close to him. In Collier the two would play golf, go out to dinner and hang out, he said.
"He's going to be with me for a while because he needs me," Scotto said. "I protect him."
Scotto said he is aware of the media attention Simpson's possible release to Collier has already attracted. He said he was "bombarded" by media requests as soon as Thursday's hearing ended.
"I came out of the prison and I had 108 missed calls," Scotto said, adding that he had 168 text messages.
"This is a big deal," Scotto said. "Come October it's a big, big deal."