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December 16, 2020

N.J. gym fined nearly $124,000 for refusing to stay closed despite pandemic order

The owners have been publicly defiant of the state's shut down, and have vowed to not pay the fines

COVID-19 Lawsuit
081920_atilis_gym.original.png Google/Street View

Atilis Gym in New Jersey was stacked with $123,900 in fines for violating the state's executive orders to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A gym in New Jersey was hit with nearly $124,000 in fines for violating the state's executive shut down order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. 

The state says Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, Camden County has been in "non-compliance and contempt" of the statewide orders, reported.

The gym's owners have been publicly defiant of the shut down, and have vowed to not pay the fines because they don't accept Gov. Phil Murphy's authority over them.

"We don't have any respect for Gov. Murphy," Ian Smith, a co-owner of Atilis Gym, told "He has no authority outside of the Constitutional authority. We want to be left alone. We want to run our business in peace. I don't care about the fines. Throw me in jail, I don't care. I'm not going to pay them." 

Gov. Murphy issued statewide orders that shuttered businesses during the latest COVID-19 surge. The state reported over 4,000 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the state's total case count to 409,414.

Last week, the state filed a motion for a $123,982 judgement against Smith and co-owner Frank Trumbetti. Smith took to social media to air his frustrations. 

Smith said the gym received a notice in October that they would be fined $15,000 for each day they were not in compliance with state mandates. Those mandates included requiring patrons and staff to wear masks. They would also be fined for being in contempt of court.

The motion also claims that the state is entitled to $15,497.76 in daily sanctions for each day the gym was in defiance of the court's Oct. 8 order. Smith said he estimates the fines to be closer to $1.2 million with those sanctions included.

"[Smith and Trumbetti's] behavior is not limited to simple non-compliance but extends to open contempt and attempts to incite others to engage in contempt," the motion said.

The motion cited a video the pair posted to social media.

"This is a battle you cannot win," Smith said in the Nov. 20 video. "This is our hill and I'll die on it before I let you take it. Come and get us. Try all you want, but I will make you look foolish and expose you for the cowardly, petty tyrants you'll simply have to kill me first."

Atilis Gym reopened on May 8 despite a statewide executive order that closed all businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ever since, the owners have been openly defiant against state police and law enforcement officials. 

The Bellmawr Borough Council voted to remove the gym's business license in August, which Smith called a "political move" because the council is Democrat-controlled.

"This isn't about a gym," Smith said to "It's an all-out assault on small business and the middle class."