After busting into Atilis Gym, owners get new summonses
BELLMAWR — The owners of Atilis Gym have been issued new summonses, after they broke back into their business against a judge's order and lead others inside without wearing face coverings amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday, Ian Smith, 33, and Frank Trumbetti, 51, kicked down the plywood barricading the gym that has been at the center of a legal fight with public health officials.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office confirmed the new disorderly persons offenses were mailed to the duo after Saturday's activity, which was seen by police officers stationed nearby.
A week ago, July 27, Smith, of Delanco Township, and Trumbetti, of Williamstown, were arrested on contempt of court and obstruction charges, after continuing to operate their gym beyond the state's parameters and defying a court's order to stop. A judge had issued a contempt order against them days earlier, according to court documents.
As part of Saturday's reopening, Smith said on Facebook that the gym had been reorganized from a limited liability company to a private membership association, which Smith believes places the gym outside the reach of local and state regulators. The state Office of the Attorney General had no comment Sunday when asked by New Jersey 101.5 whether the reorganization of the gym as a PMA would legally impact the continued standoff with the state over pandemic restrictions.
“They are protesters. They continue to protest the continued unconstitutional enforcement of these ridiculous executive orders. Again, why are indoor gymnastics and other indoor sports allowed to operate?" attorney James Mermigis said Sunday in a written statement to New Jersey 101.5.
Mermigis continued: “This is a personal attack by the governor against my clients. The governor has engaged in one hypocrisy after another yet chooses to single out my clients.”
New Jersey has slowly eased restrictions that, when first put in place, shut down most retail, entertainment and other public-facing businesses. Outdoor dining is currently allowed at limited capacity, as is retail. But Murphy has said he's reluctant to let gyms begin operating again, saying strenuous and often stationary physical activity, heavy breathing, and indoor setting make for a dangerous confluence of factors.
The state does allow facilities to offer individual, by-appointment personal training sessions
Smith and Trumbetti were locked out of the gym in May for state health violations. They regained access a month later to run nutrition and clothing sales, an authorization the state says they violated in part by allowing indoor workouts.
Mermigis said “Not one person from the government has yet to visit and inspect the gym for the safety precautions in place.”
Camden County health officials inspected the gym July 15, according to a court filing by the state. At the time, there were about 40 people working out inside Atilis Gym, in violation of state directives first issued in March to stem the spread of COVID-19, officials said.
Smith and Trumbetti have said repeatedly that the gym will continue to violate the state's orders against further reopening since the spring, as "enough is enough."
As of Monday, the rate of transmission of novel coronavirus in New Jersey — an estimate of how many new people each person with the virus infects — was at 1.48, prompting Gov. Phil Murphy to tweet "We remain in a public health emergency. Over the last week, we saw numbers of new cases that we hadn’t seen in eight weeks. Our rate of transmission is now more than double where it was a few weeks ago. Everyone needs to get it together – and fast. This is not yet past us."
Includes previous reporting by Sergio Bichao
More from New Jersey 101.5: