New Jersey gym owner cleared of COVID shutdown defiance charges after lengthy legal battle


A New Jersey gym owner who defied the state’s COVID-19 restrictions was cleared of over 80 charges related to pandemic-era confrontations with police, NY Post reported. He celebrated by posting on social media that the governor could “suck his d–k.”

Ian Smith and Frank Trumbetti, co-owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, received numerous summonses after keeping their gym open in May 2020, despite Governor Phil Murphy’s mandate to close non-essential businesses.

New Jersey gym owner cleared of charges after defying COVID shutdown orders, escapes jail time

At one point, police even arrested gym-goers as they left the building. The owners faced numerous summonses and were eventually ordered to pay around $165,000 in fines for violating public health emergency rules, according to NJ.com.

Several of the charges, including violating a governor’s orders, operating without a mercantile license, creating a public nuisance, and disturbing the peace, could have landed the duo in jail for six months, according to their attorney, John McCann of Oakland, New Jersey.

But late last month, a municipal judge in Winslow Township dropped the charges, following a nearly four-year legal battle, McCann told the outlet. “It was a just decision,” McCann told The Post on Tuesday, adding that the pair were improperly charged by local authorities. “[The town] was not acting in good faith.”

Smith was involved in a fatal drunk driving incident in 2007 where a 17-year-old was killed. He was then arrested for another drunk driving incident in March 2022.

Smith celebrates legal victory on Instagram

He celebrated his legal victory on Instagram with a post thanking his supporters and insulting the governor.

“This victory opens the battlefield again and gives us options to continue to push back and bring justice to the treasonous actions of Phil Murphy and his lackies,” Smith said, although he didn’t elaborate about what the “treasonous actions” might be.

“You need the reports, you need a whole bunch of stuff,” McCann said. “The judge in Winslow said Bellmawr didn’t provide their court with meaningful discovery to give to us. She basically said that Bellmawr ignored the requests.”

McCann, a well-known municipal attorney who once worked for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, said he’s now attempting to retrieve the money the gym owners paid the state in fines. But he’s uncertain about the outcome.

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