BUFFALO (WKBW) — The Erie County Health Department confirms it has fined Robby Dinero, the owner of Athletes Unleashed in Orchard Park, after a confrontation with health sanitarians. Dinero told Fox News on Tuesday that the fine was for $15,000. Dinero then appeared to rip up the fine up on live television.
According to the Erie County Department of Health, the person identifying as the gym owner refused to accept the document, and it was taped to the front door of the business.
At the time of the inspection on November 20, 2020, the facility address was located within a NYS Cluster Action Initiative Orange Zone, as defined by NYS Executive Order 202.68, with a non-essential gathering limit of 10 persons. Further, during a non-essential gathering, the business owner, building owner and those otherwise authorized on their behalf, or otherwise authorized to use the building did not deny entry to attendees who were not wearing a face covering, as verified by an ECDOH inspection.
Dinero told 7 Eyewitness News that the health sanitarians came onto private property, and had no business being there.
“They found out they messed with the wrong bunch of patriots,” said Dinero in a previous interview with 7 Eyewitness News. “I’m not here to argue with the Governor or the County Executive about spike rates—I don’t care,” he said. “Freedom can never be subjugated to fear,” he said.
The Erie County Health Department said the fine has to be paid by December 19th. According to the document the gym received, the owner must appear at a hearing if the fine is not paid.
If you do not agree to the stipulation, you must appear at a hearing which will be scheduled in the near future. Please be advised that if found liable, fines could be as much as $15,000.00 for every day the violations existed
A video of the confrontation made it's way onto social media.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw released a statement on the situation. It reads, in part:
"Mark Poloncarz crossed a line. Punitively punishing a small business owner that served our country is despicable. People are fed up. The resistance against power hungry politicians destroying businesses with arbitrary COVID rules they make up as they go along has begun. Enough is enough. Mark Poloncarz is a bully that cares more about shutting down the economy, closing schools, regulating churches and damaging families than protecting the health of our community."
During Dinero's interview with Fox News, he said the restrictions go too far.
“Any infringement on our liberty goes too far. We were born with inalienable rights bestowed on us by our creator. They are guaranteed by the Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights," says Dinero on Fox News. “Our freedom cannot end where people’s fear starts.”
On Wednesday, an email using racist and hateful language signed by a Robby Dinero surfaced, first reported by WNYmedia. The email, obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, is from an address with the domain 'theunleashed.us," which is the same domain used by Athletes Unleashed owner Robby Dinero for his leadership business.
Multiple attempts to reach Dinero about the email went unanswered.
Shortly after the email began circulating on social media, Erie County Legislator Joseph Lorigo tweeted that he condemns the statements made in the email. A day earlier, Lorigo had publicly announced he would be submitting a resolution to waive the $15,000 fine imposed on Dinero.
Just learned of disgusting, vile, and racist statements made by the owner of the gym in OP. I wholeheartedly condemn the statements and behavior.— Joseph Lorigo (@JosephLorigo) November 25, 2020
My stance was solely on the fee—that it was excessive and retaliatory, and I was seeking justification for its issuance.
Despite rising infection rates across Erie County, Dinero is calling on other businesses to violate the governor's executive order and open their doors Monday. Dinero said no contact tracing has found cases at his gym, and said he's not concerned about asymptomatic spread.
"My business is open Monday morning," Dinero said. "Absolutely in absolute clear utter defiance of the governor, of Mr. Poloncarz, and anybody else, I am opening."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz advised against the gym opening, and said those actions could lead to civil and criminal penalties.
“They are subject to the rules and laws of the State of New York, and I would hope that the owner would understand that this is not pointing the finger at gyms per se, it's trying to protect the public's health.”