A familiar face's return marked a major contradiction in testimony as the trial of former Arts Council director P. David Romei continued Wednesday.
Former College Station City Manager Tom Brymer testified before the jury that he never recalled a time where he allowed Romei to keep $7,400 of city money as compensation for consulting.
During his testimony, Romei claimed Brymer did allow him to keep the money, which was noted in an Arts Council contract change order as being for lighting of a statue in the city. That statue had been lit for free, according to Romei and the electrician, Britt Rice.
Romei began the day on the stand testifying about medication purchases of $1,510 on an Arts Council credit card. He had earlier claimed he had mistakenly used that card instead of one of his own, though he was allowed to use arts money per his deal with the city. Romei ended up reimbursing himself for that $1,510 as a result of that claimed mistake.
District Attorney Bill Turner brought forward bank statements that showed had Romei not deposited that reimbursement into his personal account, it would have been overdrawn. Turner presented similar situations a day earlier when it came to other reimbursements Romei authorized for himself. Like the day before, Romei said it was coincidental.
The prosecution then brought up the European vacation Romei took with a friend and niece, a trip for which he used arts money to purchase. Audio recordings showed Romei first said the trip was personal, and that it was a mistake that he hadn't reimbursed it. In interviews recorded later, Romei said it was also a business trip, claiming to have gone to museums and picked up ideas to better promote local art.
Turner proposed that it was odd that Romei would originally call it a mistake if it was, in fact, business in nature.
Romei went on to claim the charges were brought against him because of political vendettas of former city leaders, and that people were overlooking millions of good things he had done for the community.
He also claimed he never had the chance to confront the allegations before being indicted, though Turner cited meetings prior to the indictment where Romei was asked, but didn't respond to the charges, according to Turner. Romei said his lawyers had told him not to respond.
Later, Turner brought up gifts Romei had given to Brymer which were bought with Romei's personal money, but reimbursed with Arts Council funds. Romei claimed he didn't know Brymer had the ability to amend the city's contract with the ACBV, or that it was illegal to give gifts to city leaders using charity funds.
Romei said he did the same thing with then-Councilman Robert Wareing. Again, Romei said he thought it was fine, and that when he gave the gifts, he was thinking of Wareing as a close friend and former ACBV board member, not as an elected official.
Brymer, during his testimony, said he would not have accepted the Romei gifts had he known Romei had reimbursed himself with ACBV money for them.
Both sides rested following Romei's and Brymer's testimony. Closing arguments in the case come Thursday morning.
Romei pleaded not guilty to the theft and misappropriation charges. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Live Blog - Follow the Trial as it Happens w/ Steve Fullhart
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