Fate of 509 Fitness owner lies in jury's hands - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fate of 509 Fitness owner lies in jury's hands

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KENNEWICK, Wash. -- THe fate of 509 Fitness, gym owner Jason Sleater is now in the hands of a jury. Closing arguments wrapped up Monday afternoon at the Benton County Justice Center.

Sleater faces eight felony theft charges, in first and second degree. He's accused of taking a $19.60 "enhancement fee" from more than 375 gym members and then abruptly closing the gym in February 2011.

Deputy Prosecuting attorney, Terry Bloor says Sleater had no authorization to make the withdrawals, and other gyms have special contracts when they are authorized to do such transactions.

"Bottom line is that he helped himself to money in other people's accounts that he had no right to. He received over $5,000 by doing that and he used access devices of about seven people to accomplish that," said Bloor in closing arguments.

Bloor says the enhancement fees added up total more than $8,000. "You know my colleague asked a good question. Can he impose enough to buy a car? he asked the jurors.

Sleater's defense attorney, Scott Johnson argued that an "enhancement fee" is considered an "other fee" as listed in the contracts. He also added, that besides the five people who testified, there is no proof that other gym members had a problem with the fee. Johnson opened by saying this is a case of revenge because one of the alleged victims, Bill Dramis is a Kennewick police officer who has a temper "What this is, is a case that got completely, completely blown out of proportion because one detective got mad," said Johnson. Johnson continued to say police originally called this a civil manner, not a criminal one.

Johnson also says an ASF, the billing company agreed that Sleater had the right to make the withdrawals."When the state's own witness at all of these points is saying my client has a legal right to this money? How can they come to you with a straight face and say that Jason is guilty of these eight felony counts?" asked Johnson.