Romei Trial, Day 6 + Courtroom Blog

After seven hours answering his lawyer's questions, P. David Romei was grilled by the state in his trial.

Tuesday morning and early afternoon, the former Arts Council director's lawyer, Richard "Racehorse" Haynes, continued going down the list of allegations provided to him by the state, most of which are not at the forefront of the state's focus.

Come mid-afternoon, it was District Attorney Bill Turner's chance to question Romei about the felony theft and misappropriation charges. Romei is accused of using arts and City of College Station money for personal purchases.

- On political contributions made with arts money: Romei said he was unaware of the law prohibiting that until consulting with an attorney, at which point, he stopped. The state pointed out that Romei had been involved in non-profit organizations and charity work for a decade-and-a-half, and had also run for political office in Alabama.

- On the lighting of the firefighter statue in College Station: Electrician Britt Rice had offered to do the work for free, and did $400 worth of work, according to testimony. But Romei had gotten a change order to the ACBV's contract with the city for $7,400, the cost estimate for lighting he had given them.

Romei said the quality of the work wasn't as good as he had thought it was going to be, but kept the money as a consulting fee for work he had done for College Station. Then-City Manager Tom Brymer, he said, had allowed for that, though the contract specifically stated the money's use. Romei said he never read the contracts he signed with College Station, including one that said the city's money needed to be kept in a separate account.

- On categorizing travel expenses under the "marketing" heading on Arts Council budget reports: Romei said he never thought to create such a category, and that there still isn't one to this day at the ACBV. He also said if certain categories were going to come in over budget, they would shift things around so it would balance out. Board members could ask Romei to see the "marketing" category if they wanted to go in depth on it, but it wasn't readily shown on the budget recap the board saw.

- On the commission he took for funds he raised: Romei said he had a verbal agreement with the ACBV president and some board members that he could have 10 percent of the funds he brought in. That included, he said, $450,000 the City of College Station agreed to give the ACBV for the Arts Center. If the citizens would have asked about where part of that money was going, Romei said he would have told them, but that it wasn't something they wanted to be forthcoming with so as not to discourage donations.

- On $5,000 and $3,450 ACBV checks deposited into Romei's personal account: Both were labeled as A&M Foundation donations. With the $5,000, Romei said he forgot to send the check. The $3,450 reimbursement was mislabeled in the Arts Council's system, he said.

But in both cases where the checks were deposited, the state contends Romei would have been overdrawn on his personal account had he not deposited the ACBV money. Turner presented Romei with his checkbook that noted he would have been in the red were it not for the ACBV reimbursements. Romei said the checkbook showed he would have been back in the black just days later by the numbers, and that he didn't need the money and could have simply transferred funds from another personal account if necessary.

The trial continues at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 361st District Court, with Romei still under cross examination.

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

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