BELLMAWR, N.J—Two New Jersey gym owners were arrested on Monday, July 27 after allegedly opposing Governor Phil Murphy’s executive order that prohibits gyms and fitness centers from opening their indoor premises.
According to Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer, the owners of Atilis Gym, Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, violated a court order that asked them to cease their operation, leading to their arrest.
The order issued by Judge Robert T. Lougy on July 24, found the owners in contempt of a previous ruling that was made by the New Jersey Department of Health. In this ruling Smith and Trumbetti were asked to follow the executive order signed by Governor Murphy on June 26 which specifies that fitness facilities cannot be open to the public and can only perform individualized training sessions.
After the prosecutor’s office did an investigation on the case it was determined that Atilis Gym was not following the order from the department of health. The report from the investigation indicated the facility was operating indoors and clients were not wearing face masks or following social distancing guidelines.
“From July 24 through July 27, a number of individuals were observed entered and using the gym, a direct violation of the court order. Police said both owners refused to leave the gym when asked, leading to the charges,” said Mayer.
Smith and Trumbetti are facing charges of fourth-degree Contempt, one count of Obstruction and one count of Violation of a Disaster Control Act. The order rules that they have to pay unspecified fines for each day they remain in contempt of court and it allows officials to change the locks of the gym or to put a barrier in front of the facility to ensure its closure.
Before the arrest, Smith shared a video on social media affirming that he and Trumbetti would not back down from opening the gym and that they would take off doors and hinges if it was necessary to keep its operation. He shared they had registered Atilis Gym as a Private Membership Association which according to him, gave them the right to peacefully assemble and continue with their actions.
After being released on Monday, the gym owners shared a video of their arrest on Facebook.
“Welcome to America 2020, where feeding your family and standing up for your Constitutional rights is illegal,” reads a description of the video. “Officers from the county sheriffs entered the premises without a warrant or adhering to the signage posted on the door requesting they call first. They took Frank and I away and boarded up our private place of business. This is gonna be fun in court. If this doesn’t alarm you, you’re part of the problem.”
The office of the New Jersey Attorney General also commented on the arrest.
“After Atilis Gym refused to comply with multiple criminal citations and Superior Court orders, including a contempt of court order issued Friday, today law enforcement entered the premises to ensure closure of the gym and to abate the public health risks. As the Attorney General previously said, the state wishes it had not come to this, but the gym refused to comply even with a contempt order,” said a spokesperson for Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.