BELLMAWR, N.J. — A South New Jersey gym was shuttered Monday and its two owners arrested, escalating a battle over the two men’s refusal to comply with Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus restrictions.
A judge on Friday ordered Atilis gym owners Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti to vacate and cease operations in Bellmawr, N.J.
They were charged Monday with disobeying that order, Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer said.
She said Smith, 33, of Delanco Township, and Trumbetti, 51, of Williamstown, were charged with one count of fourth-degree contempt, one count of obstruction, and one count of violation of a disaster control act, Fox News reported.
The contempt charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail. The other two charges were disorderly persons summonses.
“From July 24 through July 27, a number of individuals were observed entered and using the gym, a direct violation of the court order,” Mayer said. “Police said both owners refused to leave the gym when asked, leading to the charges.”
Smith told Fox & Friends on Saturday that there was no reason to keep them closed.
“We can operate our business safely, responsibly,” he said. “We have shown that to be true. We haven’t had a single case of COVID reported and we have everybody’s records here,” he added. “So, we’re not backing down from this one.”
Smith and Trumbetti were brought to the Bellmawr Police Department, booked and released.
James Mermigis, who is the attorney representing Smith, told the Newark Star-Ledger the gym was boarded up by authorities Monday and the owners do not have access to get inside.
He said he is unsure what Smith and Trumbetti’s next step would be, but he remained adamant that Murphy’s order to have gyms still shutdown is “unconstitutional” when activities like gymnastics and martial arts have re-opened at certain capacity limits.
“I do believe the governor is overreaching and I do believe this has gone too far,” he said.