Owner of Unregistered Gym Strikes Plea Deal

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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)


BRENTWOOD -- The owner of a Newton gym has pleaded guilty to operating the unregistered business in violation of a court order in a deal that saw his potential fine cut from as much as $47,000 to $4,000.

As part of a negotiated plea deal with state prosecutors, Thomas Lavigne was given a one-year suspended jail sentence at a hearing Thursday in Rockingham County Superior Court.Judge N. William Delker made it clear that Lavigne must properly register his gym with the state if he plans to reopen.

Lavigne pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating an injunction by continuing to operate CrossFit Affirmation after a judge had ordered it closed until registered.Lavigne declined to comment on his future plans for the gym when asked following the hearing, but Associate Attorney General James Boffetti said Lavigne has indicated he wants to get the gym registered with the Attorney General's office and open legally.

"He has expressed a desire to resolve his issues," Boffetti said.Lavigne also faced $47,000 in fines and penalties related to violations of the Consumer Protection Act.

He has asked the court to reduce the amount to $4,000. Boffetti said the state was agreeable to the lower amount.

Boffetti said Lavigne will also be required to take out a $40,000 bond to protect prepayments by gym members and provide other protections.Under state law, all health clubs and martial arts schools are required to register with the Attorney General's office.

The Attorney General's office launched its investigation in April after receiving a call from someone asking if the gym at 4A Puzzle Lane, Unit 3, was registered.

Boffetti said that at one point the gym advertised lifetime/platinum memberships of between $5,000 and $7,500 each.

By law, health club term contracts are limited to a year or less and aren't allowed to contain an automatic renewal clause for a period of more than a month.

Boffetti said Lavigne collected $50,000 from those illegal long-term memberships, but that none of the members have asked for a refund.

He said Lavigne won't have to return their money, but if the gym reopens and shuts down before those members have been given the gym time they've paid for the $40,000 bond will kick in to protect them.

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September 7, 2018


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