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Spears' hairdresser testifies ex-confidant tried to reach singer

Roberta Romero says Osama 'Sam' Lutfi sent her numerous texts trying to persuade her to pass messages to Spears. He had signed an agreement to stay away from the performer.

February 26, 2009|Harriet Ryan

What Roberta Romero, Britney Spears' personal hairdresser, has heard and seen over the last year would probably fill a book, but when she stepped her black platform pumps into a Superior Court witness box Wednesday there was only one subject on the table: Osama "Sam" Lutfi, the pop star's former confidant.

Lutfi was banished from Spears' life 13 months ago when her father, who accused him of filling her body with drugs and her mind with lies, assumed control of her affairs. Lufti disputes the Svengali portrayal and contends in a civil suit that her parents have waged a "campaign of lies and intimidation" to destroy him.

Testifying before the judge who is deciding whether to impose a long-term restraining order, Romero said she received a phone call and numerous text messages in which the 34-year-old movie and music producer tried to persuade her to pass messages to Spears.

The messages detailed in court included a seemingly innocuous holiday greeting -- "Can you wish her a merry Christmas for me?" -- and a suggestion that Lutfi was working to end her father's oversight: "I've done everything I can to free her from this. Very close to getting her free now."

Although there was no restraining order in place at the time of the December messages, Lutfi had signed a formal agreement to stay away from Spears. Romero, whose role in Spears' life ranges from attaching her hair extensions to accompanying her to the movies, said she ignored the texts and kept them from the singer. But in late December, Spears picked up the beautician's phone by accident and discovered some texts.

"She told me she is scared of him," Romero recalled.

The stylist's testimony bolstered the allegation, advanced by lawyers for the singer's father, James Spears, that Lutfi is part of a conspiracy to break her out of the court-ordered conservatorship. Lutfi is fighting the restraining order, and Judge Aviva Bobb will hear testimony from additional witnesses in April.

A lawyer for Spears' father said in court that the April witnesses will include a Long Beach attorney, John Anderson, who obtained a letter last month purportedly signed by Spears hiring him to represent her.

Another judge has ruled that Spears lacked the mental competence to retain legal counsel and must rely on a lawyer appointed by the court.

Jeffrey Wexler, the lawyer for Spears' father, said the letter was the result of a plot involving Lutfi, her former boyfriend Adnan Ghalib and another attorney, Jon Eardley.

Outside court, Eardley's lawyer said that even if his client helped recruit Anderson, it did not rise to the level of harassment required by the restraining order statute.

In a related development, Ghalib pleaded not guilty to felony assault and other charges Wednesday stemming from a January incident in which authorities say he rammed his Mercedes-Benz into a process server trying to deliver notification of a temporary restraining order barring him from contact with Spears.

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harriet.ryan@latimes.com

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