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New Jersey gym owners arrested after ignoring contempt order for defying COVID-19 directives

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

The owners have defied state pandemic mandates.

The Camden County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office reported that the owners of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, New Jersey, were arrested and released early on Monday, July 27, after continuing to operate their business despite a judge’s contempt order against them that was issued on Friday, July 24.

The two owners, a 33-year-old resident of Delanco Township and a 51-year-old resident of Williamstown, are charged with one count of fourth-degree Contempt, one count of Obstruction, and one count of Violation of a Disaster Control Act, both disorderly persons summons, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Contempt order. On July 24, Superior Court Judge Robert T. Lougy issued a court order for the two owners to vacate the gym and cease operations. However, from July 24 through July 27, multiple individuals were observed entered and using the gym, a direct violation of the court order, the county prosecutor’s office said.

Both owners refused to leave the gym when asked to, according to the police, which led to the criminal charges. Both owners were transported to the Bellmawr Police Department where they were charged and released.

Public defiance of coronavirus measures. According to media reports, and their own social media messages, the owners have continuously defied New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 coronavirus shutdown and other directives. The gym’s website on July 27 featured this message:

  • atilisgymbellmawr Murphy is coming to unlawfully and illegally lock our doors once again at @atilisgymbellmawr with a new lawsuit and potentially imprison [the owners]. We are OPEN and will not be backing down – so come get a workout! Please help us fight by sharing. We will update you fully shortly.

As the prosecutor’s office noted, all persons charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.