ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local gym owner, and vocal opponent of Erie County’s mask mandate, says he was arrested “for allegedly not wearing a mask on a previous occasion.” But Orchard Park police tell a different story.
Tuesday night on Facebook, Robby Dinero, who owns Athletes Unleashed in Orchard Park, posted a photo of himself being arrested.
In the post, Dinero said he was trying to attend an Orchard Park Central School District school board meeting when it happened. At the time, he says he was wearing a mask.
MORE | See the post here.
Orchard Park police provided an update on Wednesday morning. According to them, Dinero “reportedly has had previous violations of the Orchard Park Central School District’s Code of Conduct.”
Dinero and his attorney Todd Aldinger were told in a letter by the Orchard Park School District’s attorney that if Dinero complied with Covid-19 protocols and with the school Code of Conduct, he would no longer be banned.
In a statement released the following afternoon, the school district explained why Dinero had been banned from the school.
“The Orchard Park Central School District constantly strives to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our students, staff, and visitors. Unfortunately, that has become much more difficult during the pandemic. Despite these challenges, the District has worked to hold Board of Education meetings in public, as the Board and District welcome and value input from our residents and employees. Unfortunately, the District has been unable to effectively conduct its business during in-person meetings on a number of occasions this year due to visitors refusing to comply with the District’s Code of Conduct and COVID-19 protocols.
The District handles each matter on an individual basis and, if necessary, takes appropriate action to address violations. In November, the District was forced to ban an individual from coming inside school District buildings due to the individual’s conduct. Specifically, on multiple occasions, the individual would don a face mask to enter a school building, remove the face mask once in the building, and refuse to put it back on when requested by District officials and employees. In addition, the individual disrupted Board of Education meetings. The individual shouted threats and inappropriate statements, which interfered with the right of the Board of Education to continue their business in an orderly manner without disruption.
As a result, the District notified this individual, in writing, on November 12, 2021, that they are prohibited from being in any of the District’s school buildings and attending any activity or event taking place within District school buildings including Board meetings. At the December 14, 2021 Board meeting, the individual entered a District building despite being banned from the property. The District notified law enforcement, who then removed the individual from our property.
The District and Board of Education will continue to work to provide our students with the best education and support during these unprecedented times. We are disappointed that these incidents distract from our mission here at Orchard Park and will continue to concentrate our efforts on what truly matters: our students.”Orchard Park Central School District
Before he entered the building Tuesday night, police say Dinero was stopped outside by school staff and told he couldn’t go in.
According to police, Dinero proceeded to enter the building anyway, and officers subsequently charged him with criminal trespassing around 6:50 p.m.
In his Facebook post, the gym owner praised parents who took their masks off at the board meeting and those who did the same at a separate meeting in Hamburg.
“If these govt hacks believe arresting me is going to slow any of this down or stop parents from fighting, they are more ignorant and deluded than we thought,” Dinero wrote.
The post ended with Dinero calling for people to not “make this about the police.”
“They were awesome and are doing the Lord’s work,” he said. “Please keep them in your prayers during these times.”
In the past, Dinero was the subject of a lawsuit filed by New York State. According to Dinero’s attorney, the lawsuit claimed that Athletes Unleashed violated the state’s mask rules.
Dinero was facing up to $100,000 in fines, but this past July, the case was dropped.
Following his Tuesday night arrest, Dinero was given a court appearance ticket. He’s scheduled to appear on December 28.
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