Woody’s owner Michael Weiss, currently on probation for tax fraud, has been appointed to the Democratic executive committee of the city’s Eighth Ward.
Stephanie Singer, who Wednesday stepped down as Eighth Ward Leader in preparation for assuming the City Commissioner position, approved Weiss to fill a vacant committee seat earlier this month.
Weiss will represent the 23rd division of the ward along with current committeeperson Naomi Ware. There are 30 divisions within the ward, each of which is led by two committee people.
Singer said Ware suggested Weiss for the seat.
“I didn’t recruit him myself but we’ve had a policy for a long time that if there’s a vacancy and the committeeperson in that division suggests someone, then the committee will welcome that suggestion and the ward leader will appoint them,” Singer said. “So he was suggested by the committee person, and he indicated he was willing to serve.”
Weiss was indicted last November on tax-fraud charges and sentenced to three years probation, the first of which was served under house arrest.
Singer said she had not known about the indictment.
Weiss, who co-owns Woody’s with his brother and serves as president of Voyeur, was accused of underreporting $1.6 million in earnings to the IRS from the Palmer Social Club, of which he served as principal operating officer and manager.
He pleaded guilty to corruptly endeavoring to impede the due administration of the tax code and two counts of aiding and abetting the preparation and filing of false tax returns, although the latter charges were dismissed.
State Sen. Larry Farnese, who was elected as the new Eight Ward Leader this week, said he doesn’t believe Weiss’ legal issues should preclude his service as a committeeperson.
“I’ve known Mr. Weiss for some time and my understanding is that he had a problem with the law, he served his debt to society, and now he’s continuing on being a productive member of the community,” Farnese said. “He’s always been a friend of mine and one of the lessons I learned from my parents is that you never turn your back on your friends.”
The 23rd division encompasses 22nd Street to the Schuylkill River and Vine to Arch streets.
Weiss will serve in the role until 2014, at which time he can run for the seat in the city election.