Former District Attorney Seth Williams was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for accepting a bribe. Williams was initially charged with 29 counts of bribery, extortion and fraud but pleaded guilty in June to a single count associated with accepting a $3,000 sofa and thousands of dollars in cash from a local businessman.
Local LGBT business owner Michael Weiss was among the individuals who testified in Williams’ corruption trial. Prosecutors said that between 2012-15, the co0owner of LGBT venues Woody’s and Voyeur gave Williams a used Jaguar, vacation trips and cash payments. In return, prosecutors said Weiss became Williams’ “special advisor” to the D.A.’s Office and Williams helped Weiss obtain a police accident report for a friend.
Additionally, Williams allegedly sent letters on Weiss’ behalf relating to the latter’s tax issues; in 2010, Weiss was sentenced to three-years’ probation and fined $30,000 after he pleaded guilty to “corruptly endeavoring to impede the due administration of the federal tax code.”
Williams also allegedly let Weiss and his boyfriend drive a city-owned car a short distance while they attended a party in Wildwood, N.J.
Weiss testified that he and his brother, Billy, loaned more than $2,000 to Williams and never received repayment, though Weiss added that Williams offered to serve as a “celebrity bartender” to repay the loans. Weiss said he told his brother that, “We’ve got to stop this. We’ve put enough into this friendship.”
He also testified that he was “extremely upset” to learn Williams kept the Jaguar for himself, noting he thought Williams’ girlfriend or her father would be the ones using it.
Weiss said he also feared “retaliation” if he stopped providing gifts to Williams.
Under cross-examination, Weiss said he had a close relationship with Williams.
“What does Little Sethie want for his birthday?” Weiss wrote in one text to Williams.
Defense attorney Thomas Burke said the text illustrated a loving relationship between the two men, who have known each other since 2009, and that gifts would be expected.