RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Richmond charity is suing a local venue — alleging that the venue embezzled the charity’s money and used its banquet license issued by the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board to serve alcohol.
The Woody Foundation, whose mission is to “improve the quality of life for inner city youth” in the Richmond area, has held more than a dozen events at the Military Retirees’ Club over the last ten years.
Christopher Woody, the foundation’s founder, said that most, if not all, of their events have taken place at the Military Retirees’ Club over the last decade, but their relationship turned sour in late 2021 and early 2022, when a friend informed Woody that he shouldn’t have to pay admissions taxes for his events.
Woody said he looked into it and found out that his friend had been correct. In an email obtained by 8News, city officials told Woody that charity events which accept donations rather than charging admission are not subject to admissions taxes.
In the lawsuit, Woody alleges that he paid about 7% of each of his events’ estimated revenue in admissions taxes — which usually amounted to anywhere between $250 and $500, totaling as much as $30,000 over the years.
According to the contract between the foundation and the venue, the venue was supposed to pay any required admissions taxes to the city on the foundation’s behalf. Woody said that when he checked, he found that the city had no record of admissions taxes being paid by the venue on his foundation’s behalf.
“It made me a little upset knowing that I trusted in them with that money to pay on behalf of the foundation… and nothing was there,” said Woody. “When I asked to go see all of the admissions tax that was paid on behalf of the foundation, there was no record of funds being submitted.”
Woody said that, after finding this out, he sent proof that he didn’t need to pay admissions taxes to the venue. The venue’s management responded by telling him that if he didn’t continue to pay, he would not be allowed to host any more events there.
“They barred me,” said Woody. “I had to move my events to smaller locations, canceling and losing funds from previous contracts I had with artists coming here.”
According to the lawsuit, Woody found out he had been banned from the venue on the day one of his events was taking place there. Woody told 8News he pulled his ABC license from the event, but the venue’s management somehow re-printed it and kept the event going — alcohol and all.
“Once I told them I didn’t want them to sell liquor on my license and the event had to be canceled, the club manager told me they could do whatever they wanted to do,” said Woody. “So, I asked for my event license back and they continued on with the event and reprinted my license.”
In response to the lawsuit, the Military Retirees’ Club’s president and vice president filed a strong denial of the accusations — and alleged that the contract was between the venue and Woody himself, not the foundation.
8News received a statement from the venue’s legal representation, which said in part: “Our clients categorically deny the allegations as they lack merit, and we look forward to the matter being resolved in the City of Richmond Circuit Court in favor of the Military Retiree’s Club.”