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Romei Wants to Know If Local Attorney Disclosed Private Info

Former Arts Council of the Brazos Valley Director P. David Romei wants to hear from an attorney who represented both Romei and the Arts Council on claims the council are refuting.

Last week, Romei pleaded not guilty to stealing and spending money that belonged to the Arts Council and the City of College Station during his tenure as director.

In court documents filed Wednesday, it is stated that Romei hired local attorney Gaines West in 2005. Romei was supporting then-Councilman Robert Wareing in his reelection bid. Wareing was eventually defeated for the College Station council seat by Ron Gay.

Romei was attacked on a website run by Gay supporters, according to the documents, and he hired West to represent him. It was during this time that Romei is said to have provided confidential information to West during the "several months" West represented him.

Romei would resign from his position as director shortly after the election. It was then, the documents state, that West was hired by the Arts Council, and that the council filed complaints against Romei with the Brazos County District Attorney's Office.

"After almost a year of investigation, the Brazos County District Attorney's Office obtained indictments against Dr. Romei relating to his employment with the ACBV," the documents state. "Mr. West, II. and the ACBV President Becky Russell promptly made themselves available to local media outlets and confirmed that they took information they had allegedly 'uncovered' to the District Attorney's Office.

"Petitioner, Dr. Romei believes that Mr. West, II. may have violated his fiduciary obligations by divulging confidential attorney-client information to board members of the ACBV, employees of the ACBV and the Brazos County District Attorney's Office," the document continues.

Romei's attorneys cite possible violations of attorney-client privileges that led to Romei's arrest and indictment. They ask for an oral deposition of West to try and figure out what, if any, information he provided the arts council.

In response, Arts Council President Becky Russell dismissed the claims.

"First off all, I have no idea what Mr. Romei is saying," Russell said. "Second, the board of the arts council took this to the DA, and Mr. Gaines West was not hired as our lawyer until several months later."

Russell says the ACBV first discovered discrepancies in their funds in September 2006, and by January 2007, had taken their findings to the District Attorney's Office.

"The arts council had not hired a lawyer," Russell said. "We made determination that these discrepancies were big enough that we needed to take them to the District Attorney's Office.

"We made this decision because we felt we owed the public the trust, and we took this to the DA's office, and we did not have attorney representation," Russell added. She said it was months after they turned over the information that West was hired.

The filed papers also state West is a supporter of District Attorney Bill Turner, who is prosecuting three of the four indictments against Romei. The fourth is being handled by another prosecutor. It is in that case that Romei is alleged to have made a contribution to Turner's reelection campaign with money that he had stolen.

A call to West was not returned.

Currently, Judge Steve Smith, who is presiding over the case, has asked attorneys for both sides to submit their cases in writing on whether Turner should prosecute three of the four cases because of his involvement in the first.


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