ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB)–The owner of an Orchard Park fitness center is fighting back against the county’s $15,000 fine for violating health law.
The showdown is now pitting county officials against each other.
The Erie County Health Department issued the $15,000 fine, citing the gym “Athletes Unleashed” for holding a gathering of more than 10 people and failing to require they wear masks.
Now the County Comptroller and county lawmakers are joining in the fray.
It started Friday, a county health worker, escorted by sheriff’s deputies, attempted to inspect Athletes Unleashed in Orchard Park but they were turned away by owner Robby Dinero and supporters.
This week, the county health department issued a $15,000 fine accusing Dinero of allowing more than 10 people into a non-essential business and failing to require they wear masks.
Dinero tore up the citation, live on Fox News and even though a GoFundMe drive has gathered much more than the $15,000 to pay the fine, Dinero, says he is not paying it.
“Really what I’m not going to do with that money, I am not paying the fine, I am not paying the fine. I can’t be anymore clear about that,” Dinero said.
DiNero cited his constitutional rights to operate his business his way, and make a living.
Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw started the GoFundMe page, accusing the governor and the county health department of abusing their authority.
“Is trying to punitively punish a struggling business owner and a war veteran, and a marine, and someone who served our country. I think that is despicable,” Mychajliw said.
A frequent political rival, County Executive Mark Poloncarz accused the Comptroller of thumbing his nose at science.
Poloncarz says, “He is basically telling the public, do whatever you want, it is all false, it is all fake. That is wrong because it is creating a false sense of security in individuals who are then putting themselves at risk to catching COVID-19.”
The County Legislature’s Minority Caucus also weighed in, submitting a resolution that calls for waiving the $15,000 fine against Athletes Unleashed.
Owner Robby Dinero says he is opening on Monday and is encouraging other businesses considered non-essential to do the same.