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Cary, NC — While some were surprised to learn of Impact Athletics sudden closing, others saw the signs months ago. In this, our preliminary report, we’ll tell you what we have learned from some digging this week.
Statements from employees confirm the business was struggling. Most employees were last paid October 5th and many of those checks were no good. That was the same time court documents from New Jersey show that Impact’s corporate parent, UW of North Carolina, LLC, filed for bankruptcy. The gym closed its doors on November 13th.
By August of 2009, employees were receiving checks that they were not able to cash. An employee told us that management was continuously changing pay periods, thus moving the actual payday. The last check that our source was given was October 5th, but she kept working in hopes that she would be compensated for her time. Other employees quit once they thought they would not be paid.
Employees reported that they began receiving checks written by an accountant in New Jersey. In November some instructors were being compensated with cash along with a pay-stub and voided check.
As paychecks and cash were being issued, employees stated that the usual health insurance costs continued to be deducted from their paychecks through November. When one employee called her insurance company to find out about her coverage, she was told that the benefits had been dropped by Impact Athletics back in July, 2009.
WHO OWNS THIS PLACE?
Court documents fail to identify the owners of Impact. Our colleagues in the mainstream media have not come up with the information. But CaryCitizen has discovered that the building and business was leased to Frank D’Alonzo of Long Island, NY in March of 2009.
Information about Mr. D’Alonzo is scarce, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette connected him to two ethics inquiries involving NCAA athletes at Pitt and Iowa State in the late 1980s.
Mr. D’Alonzo reportedly ran wellness gyms up and down the east coast for University Wellness, LLC. CaryCitizen has been unable to find any information on University Wellness Centers.
The building itself is still owned by a group of investors called Sport2Values. This development group includes local Cary residents Max Oaks, chief executive officer of Oaks Construction and Sam and Maureen Shriver, owners of Performance Impact Systems.
Mr. D’Alonzo traveled back and forth from New Jersey and New York to Cary. During his absence from the facility, V.P. of University Wellness Stephanie Campbell was the senior staffer on location. Mr. D’Alonzo was last seen by employees on location in Cary in September of this year.
Mr. D’Alonzo held a mandatory employee meeting last March to introduce himself and discuss his plans to expand the building and it’s offerings. Impact Athletics was to change it’s name to University Wellness and expand from 70,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet. The employees were told that the updated facility was to provide medical care, physical therapy and professional sports training as well as programs for children and teens all under one roof.
Mr. D’Alonzo also held a member reception in which he promoted the new plans and the new facility including large indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Although there were drawings and discussions of contractors and bids, none of these renovations materialized.
We spoke with several members who checked their statements from Impact and discovered that they were not billed at all for the last 3 months. The automatic withdrawal that they had signed showed no withdrawals from Impact since July.
Meanwhile, other members were being approached to purchase a “Legacy” Membership that required $1,000 up front for an 18 month membership. One member told us that when she inquired about her investment for the long term if the gym closed, she was told that her money would be held in a annuity bond for safe keeping. When she attempted to contact the number she was given for this annuity bond, no one answered the phone.
Once employees began leaving, members began asking questions. Staffers told many members that Impact was in negotiations with O2 Fitness to take over the facility. When we spoke with O2 Fitness’s corporate office, they admitted that they were approached by Mr. D’Alonzo, but turned him down.
(Editor’s Note: O2 Fitness has told CaryCitizen that they will be honoring all Impact memberships through the end of November.)
STILL DIGGING FOR ANSWERS
CaryCitizen’s calls to Bob Spence, a New York attorney representing University Wellness of North Carolina, LLC, have not been returned. Maureen Shriver, member of the Sport2Values investment group, could not be reached for comment. Attorney Richard Meth, on behalf of Sports2Values, LLC has filed a motion to move the proceedings from New Jersey to the Eastern District of North Carolina.
We spoke with the North Carolina Department of Insurance and they informed us that the Investigations Division has received several complaints already and an investigation is underway. If employees have more questions about their health benefits from Impact Athletics, they should contact the NCDI Consumer Services Department at 919-807-6750.
CaryCitizen will continue to dig for the facts in this story. If you have a personal tale about your experience at Impact, either as a member or employee, please contact Associate Editor Leslie Huffman.