Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is granting clemency to a Broward County gym owner who was arrested several times for not enforcing mask orders during the COVID pandemic.
During a Fox News segment where both Mike Carnevale and his wife Jillian were being interviewed, DeSantis called the arrests a “total overreach.”
“The fact is it's not even right to be wearing masks when you’re exercising,” DeSantis said. “It’s not healthy for people to be doing that in the first place, so it was a bad restriction, but these things with health should be advisory, they should not be punitive.”
The Governor added the state’s clemency board would issue pardons to all Floridians who received fines for masks and social distancing violations during the pandemic.
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Carnevale, the owner of Fitness 1440 in Plantation, was arrested three times over the summer and appeared before a judge in March over several charges of failing to comply with an emergency order.
"I believe I'm being targeted because I stood up to Broward County," Carnevale said.
Carnevale was arrested in late August after setting up equipment in the parking lot of his gym and not asking members to wear masks.
"They're looking to put us in jail for this and we're not backing down," he said. "We have an attorney that's going to fight all the way to the end, I'm going to fight all the way to the end."
Carnevale's attorney said they would not accept the initial plea deal a judge offered after the first arrest, and Carnevale said he was prepared to spend time behind bars. He filed a lawsuit against Broward County over the mask mandate.