Atilis Gym owner Ian Smith on Tuesday said he received a letter of seizure from the county sheriff’s office demanding that Smith and gym co-owner Frank Trumbetti turn over their assets and pay nearly $260,000 in fines for opening their business and not requiring masks in violation of coronavirus guidelines.
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In an Instagram post, Smith said the sheriff’s letter was sent out to all bank accounts and all electronic money transfer accounts for he and Trumbetti.
“Governor Murphy looks like he’s coming after the total balance,” Smith said, noting that their fee was due the day before he received the letter. The letter said failure to pay the balance would result in accrued interest.
Smith said they already owe $887 in interest, with a total balance – due yesterday – of $259,390.16.
“This is absolutely insane. Gov. Murphy wants to punish us because we proved him wrong,” Smith said. “We showed the world that businesses can operate safely and that lockdowns are disastrous economically.”
Smith accused the governor of hypocrisy for putting “COVID positive patients into nursing homes,” a decision he alleged was responsible for more than 7,000 deaths.
“This is scare tactic stuff. This is government being bullies. This is a governor drastically and majorly abusing (his) power,” Smith said. “This doesn’t change anything for us though. Full speed ahead.”
Smith and Trumbetti have been in the governor’s cross-hairs in recent months for operating their gym in defiance of the governor’s lockdown orders.
New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has threatened to punish the owners for violating his pandemic mitigation orders and, according to Trumbetti, local officials could revoke their mercantile license at a meeting Tuesday.
“Our response to that is, 'Good luck,'” Trumbetti told Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” in August. “They’re not ... handling everybody the same exact way. You're going to be violating our Constitutional rights, and we'll go ahead with a lawsuit against them and we will stay in business. There’s nothing that says we can’t be in business without a mercantile license ... We will be open.”