Jury Decides on Probation in Romei Case

A jury has decided on a probated prison sentence for the former Arts Council director, P. David Romei.

The twelve jurors sentenced Romei to two years in prison on a felony charge he was convicted of Saturday, but requested that it be probated, meaning Romei will serve at least two years probation. He was also fined $5,000.

Romei was convicted of keeping City of College Station money for himself, money that was given to the Arts Council for the lighting of a statue. Romei had claimed a verbal agreement between himself and the former city manager allowed him to keep it. That former city manager, Tom Brymer, denied that ever happening.

In some 30 days, Judge Steve Smith will decide on the amount of probation Romei will receive. As it was a third degree felony charge, he could be ordered to serve up to 10 years in prison by the judge. The judge could also choose to order Romei to pay restitution.

The hearing on that will take place anywhere from 30 days from now to just after the first of the new year.

For the misdemeanor charge concerning political contributions Romei reimbursed himself for with Arts Council money, he received a $750 fine.

If he were to fail to comply with the probation terms, Romei would go to prison.

The decision came after two hours of deliberation by a jury that spent 30 hours to reach a verdict. In addition to the two charges he was found guilty of Saturday, Romei was found not guilty of a theft charge involving his use of Arts Council money.

Character witnesses for the defense talked of Romei doing good things for each personally, and his work to better the arts in the area since his arrival in 1998. Among those testifying were former College Station Mayor Ron Silvia, First National Bank's Tim Bryan, and longtime educator and African American Museum co-founder Willie Pruitt.

Romei himself also took the stand to plead for probation. He discussed that he had to sell his home and had lost his medical insurance, which helped pay for medication needed to combat his serious, undisclosed illness. He also said he had been unemployed since his release from the Texas A&M Health Science Center following his indictment. Romei said he had spent the last two years writing a pair of religious books, but had made no money off of them.

Both legal teams also made closing arguments. The defense asked for justice with mercy in the form of probation, while the prosecution requested the jury sentence Romei to the maximum 10 years in prison for the third degree felony conviction.

Click on the videos above for reaction from all the particulars in this case.

Statement from Arts Council Board President Carol Wagner following the Romei verdict:
Once again, this is a legal process. There is no joy or disappointment in the jury's decision. However, we do believe there is more money missing, and we are continuing to review our options.

As for whether P. David Romei's name will stay on the arts center building, Wagner said the city named the building, so the council will have to meet with city officials before a decision is made.

Blog - Follow the Trial as it Happened w/ Steve Fullhart

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