West Calls Romei's Request a "Smoke Screen"

Attorney Gaines West says former arts council director P. David Romei is creating a smoke screen and using a diversionary tactic by deposing him.

Romei asked that West be deposed to see if he violated attorney-client privilege by giving confidential info to the arts council. Romei had hired West in 2005.

A statement from West's office cites Romei's failed attempt to get District Attorney Bill Turner off the case, then goes on to say Romei's next "attack" would be against Judge Steve Smith, who is presiding over the case.

West's statement also says Romei is trying to "shift blame to others," but that the strategy is one that never works.

Romei has pleaded not guilty to four indictments. He is accused of stealing arts and city money for his own use.

Turner received a campaign contribution from Romei that was allegedly stolen funds. Turner recused his office from prosecuting that case, but Judge Smith ruled that Turner could try the other cases despite a defense request.

The following is the full statement from Gaines West's office:

"Gaines West, the Arts Council attorney, in responding to the attacks leveled against him by David Romei, said today (Friday) that the request to depose him was a smoke screen and a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off of Romei.

"West said Romei is trying to get information that is protected by attorney client privilege from the Arts Council by claiming that Romei divulged incriminating information to West when they met briefly in 2005. West said Romei never revealed incriminating information to him, and that West told no one {outside of his office} about Romei's visit with West, and that Romei won't be able to use this ploy to get documents from the Arts Council.

"Since Romei recently failed to get Turner off his case, West said he anticipates that Romei's next attack will be against Judge Steve Smith to try to get Judge Smith off of Romei's case. West said that everyone knows that Judge Smith is a Judge who follows the law -- exactly the kind of Judge a criminal defendant would not want.

"West said it is apparent to him that Romei is simply trying to shift the blame to others for what Romei is accused of doing. West said that trying to do this is an old trick and one that in his opinion never works"

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