O.J. Witness Says Dr. Phil Made Him Look Like a ‘Shady Character'

LOS ANGELES -- A memorabilia dealer who was a key witness in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery and kidnapping trial in Las Vegas is suing talk show host Phil McGraw for defamation.

Thomas Riccio claims he was made to "look like a shady character" by editing done in promotional clips for an appearance on the "Dr. Phil" show.

In a declaration filed Tuesday in response to a motion from McGraw's attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit on free speech grounds, Riccio alleges the promos contained statements that McGraw and Riccio made, but that were spliced and taken out of context so as to change their meanings.
 
"The result of defendants' editing of my statements was that the promotional spots made me look like a shady character that could not be trusted," Riccio says. "I was at first shocked at what had been done to my statements, which was replaced by feelings of extreme humiliation."

Riccio also says McGraw appeared to hint that the dealer was not the author of his own book, "Busted," citing one particular page to justify some of his suspicions. "Busted" is Riccio's account of his life story and his involvement in the Simpson case.

"McGraw's comments about the book ... left the impression that I had not written my own book and he did not bother to correct himself," Riccio says.

As a result of the alleged altering of Riccio's statements, sales of "Busted" have been "flatter than would be expected and my income has suffered as a result," according to Riccio.

Riccio also says being labeled as the "ringleader" of the crime at the hotel was a "blatant defamatory statement."  

Riccio filed the lawsuit Oct. 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court against McGraw and Stage 29 Media Productions Inc. He is seeking unspecified damages.

According to the lawsuit, Riccio made a taped appearance on the "Dr. Phil" show on Oct. 6 that was aired two days later. Between the taping and the airing, Riccio's appearance was promoted in advertisements.

Riccio's secret audio recording of the confrontation in a Las Vegas hotel room between Simpson and two memorabilia dealers became crucial evidence in Simpson's arrest and conviction.

A hearing on McGraw's dismissal motion is scheduled March 10.

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