A co-owner of the controversial South Jersey gym that defied the state's coronavirus shutdown order has been dragged into the media spotlight for major criminal problems more than a decade ago.
Ian A. Smith, 33, of Atilis Gym in Camden County, was a Stockton University student in 2007 when he drank a dozen beers and ran a stop sign the next morning, killing Kevin Ade, 19, of Galloway Township, according to 6ABC News and other news accounts.
** UPDATE: New Jersey's health commissioner closed Smith's gym Thursday morning. **
Smith pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison, according to the reports.
Meanwhile, more than $43,000 had been raised on a GoFundMe to help defer legal fees associated with the gyms violations of the COVID-19 shutdown as of Wednesday.
The 13-year-old disclosure of Smith's fatal crash and prison time has provoked a firestorm among his supporters and haters on social media pages. Smith took to Instagram on Wednesday to detail his side of the story and offer answers to his past fatal mistakes.
"What we stand for is far bigger than me," Smith commented alongside his Instagram post.
"I understand people’s resentment and hatred towards me. All I ask is you listen to the details and make your decision based off of that. Regardless, what (we) stand for as a community at @atilisgymbellmawr remains unchanged. Day 3 here we come."
Smith's defiance along with gym partner Frank Trumbetti has drawn national attention and local debate over people's rights and the COVID-19 threat.
Bellmawr police issued Atilis Gym a summons for a third consecutive day Wednesday for violating Gov. Phil Murphy's order barring "non-essential businesses" -- including fitness centers -- to remain closed during the coronavirus outbreak. The gym also was cited Wednesday for "making a public nuisance," state officials announced at a daily news briefing.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.