Blast's Borghi Brings Baggage to Bally

If you haven't heard about Steve Borghi, the CEO of Blast Fitness, which is purchasing 39 Bally Total Fitness clubs, then you haven't been reading one of our colleagues in the industry.

Late last year, Club Insider's Norm Cates, a watchdog of sorts for bad club owner behavior, detailed in paragraph after paragraph some of the legal troubles that Borghi has encountered in recent years. We touched on a few of those troubles in our report Tuesday, but suffice it to say, Borghi brings some baggage with him.

There's the lawsuit filed by Borghi's business partners in 2009 in which they claimed Borghi took money from the business's account without their knowledge. That lawsuit coincided with criminal charges against Borghi, who was accused of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act by taking members' money for an unopened club. Borghi pled guilty to the violations and received a suspended 30-day jail sentence, which he wasn't happy about.

"All of this was politically driven by the attorney general. It was a witch hunt," Borghi told reporters in 2009. "There was a clear rush to judgment here. I did not do these things intentionally. I was caught on a technicality."

Then there's the issue in Rhode Island, where again, Borghi was accused of taking memberships for a club that had yet to open. Borghi hadn't even registered the club with the state.

We can examine Bally at a later time. In short, it's becoming more apparent that Bally is trying to sell off its remaining clubs. The company will have about 60 left after May 1.

But for the time being, this will give Bally employees and members in Houston, Dallas, Boston, Milwaukee and other cities where Bally has sold clubs to Blast a glimpse of the man who is taking over their clubs.

I can't wait to read what Norm thinks about Borghi and Bally now.