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Plantation Gym Owner Appears Before Judge in Mask Lawsuit

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A South Florida gym owner is facing jail time for violating a county ordinance over the summer that required gyms and businesses to mandate masks in their premises.

Mike Carnevale, the owner of Fitness 1440 in Plantation, was arrested three times over the summer and appeared before a judge Thursday. He is facing 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.

Supporters rallied around Carnevale outside the courthouse, saying they don't believe the gym owner was doing anything wrong.

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."

During Carnevale and his wife's Zoom court appearance Thursday morning, a judge set a second court date.

Carnevale's attorney said they would not accept the initial plea deal a judge offered after the first arrest -- 10 days in jail -- although Carnevale said he is prepared to sped time behind bars.

Carnevale's second court date is set for May. He has filed a lawsuit against Broward County, but did not provide an update on the status of the lawsuit.

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