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Romei Trial: Day 1 + Courtroom Blog

The trial of the former director of the Arts Council is underway, and on the first day, nine witnesses took the stand for the prosecution.

After P. David Romei pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and misappropriation of fiduciary funds, the prosecution made its opening statement Tuesday morning in the 361st District court. The defense choose to wait until after the state calls its witnesses before Romei's team gives its opening statement.

If you like documents and contracts, then this was the day for you. One by one, witnesses took the stand for the state, verifying how money connected to Romei was transferred around.

Romei is accused of reimbursing himself for more than he actually contributed to the A&M Foundation. The state says Romei made a $1,000 donation in November 2002, but reimbursed himself from the arts for $5,000. Also, the prosecution claims Romei reimbursed himself for a $3,450 donation in February 2002, but that he made no such donation.

Foundation Vice President Doyle Thompson testified about records that showed a $1,000 donation in November 2002, and no February donation.

As in all its cross examinations, the defense, led by Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, questioned Thompson as to the validity of the documents entered into evidence, and how well the records may have been kept.

Guy Foster with Scott & White Pharmacy was next on the stand. Documents show hundreds of dollars in medication was purchased by Romei from the pharmacy.

The state claims Romei paid for those meds with an Arts Council credit card, and then further reimbursed himself for the medication from arts money.

Another allegation: that Romei asked the City of College Station to authorize a $7,400 addition to the arts contract so lighting could be added to the statue at Fire Station #2. Electrician Britt Rice took the stand and testified to donating his services for the complete installation. The state claims Romei pocketed that money from the city.

Four witnesses, including College Station City Manager Glenn Brown, took the stand to verify the contract between the arts council and the city had been amended to include $7,400 more for that lighting.

Also testifying were former Bryan city councilmember Russell Bradley and former College Station mayor Ron Silvia, both of whom received campaign contributions from Romei in their 2002 campaigns. The two verified their records under oath.

The state will argue Romei made four donations, then reimbursed himself from arts money. Other alleged illegal contributions were to the campaigns of congressional candidate Peter Wareing and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

District Attorney Bill Turner told News 3 Tuesday testimony served to validate records from outside the arts council. Wednesday, he says, they will go inside the arts council, questioning people within the organization.

Romei faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Tuesday, the defense team requested that Romei be sentenced to probation were he to be convicted, saying he had never before been convicted of a felony.

Click here to read a recap of the jury selection on Day 1 of the trial.

Live Blog - Follow the Trial as it Happens w/ Steve Fullhart


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