Weiss pleads not guilty

Weiss pleads not guilty

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Local gay business owner Michael Weiss, indicted last month on charges of tax fraud in connection with his involvement with Spring Garden Street locale Palmer Social Club, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment this week and was released on bail.

Weiss, also the owner of Woody’s and the president of the board of Voyeur, came before Judge Elizabeth Hey Feb. 3 and pleaded not guilty to corrupt endeavor to impede the due administration of the tax code and two counts of aiding and abetting the preparation and filing of false tax returns.

Weiss’ attorney, Tom Bergstrom, pleaded not guilty on behalf of Palmer Social Club to the two counts of filing false tax returns facing the venue. Bergstrom told the judge he’d been authorized to enter the plea by Barnett Weiss, Michael’s father and Palmer Social Club’s president and director.

Hey approved the bail agreement negotiated by Bergstrom and prosecutors, in which Weiss was released on $250,000 — 10 percent of which he had to pay.

The agreement stipulated that Weiss is not permitted to leave the country and had to surrender his passport. He is only allowed to travel in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of California.

Weiss will be assigned a Pre-Trial Services officer, to whom he will have to report if he plans to travel to California. Weiss is also not permitted to purchase any firearms, and Hey cautioned that any violation of city, state or federal law will result in a breach of his bail agreement.

Attorneys will have 14 days to file pre-trial motions, after which a trial will be scheduled.

Hey advised Weiss that if he does not report for trial, his bail would be forfeited and he will face additional charges.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office released the grand-jury indictment Jan. 26, charging that Palmer Social Club underreported its earnings on tax filings by more than $1.6 million between 2004-05, an effort the indictment states Weiss assisted and authorized.

— Jen Colletta

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