13 Investigates: Pumped up Promises; Owner of closed gym accused of charging members, not paying employees
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – Just before Thanksgiving, North Academy Fitness seemingly shuttered its doors. A note taped to the front door of the gym off North Academy Blvd. vaguely explained the closure.
Customers, who often pay monthly dues, said they had no idea it was shutting down.
"I went to the gym to work out as usual and there was a note on the door saying they were closed for an unfortunate circumstance,” former member Justin Flower said.
What that “unfortunate circumstance” is, wasn’t noted on the sign. However, an eviction notice now sits on the front door of the business.
Despite the gym closing, more than a dozen members told 13 Investigates in December that their credit cards were still being charged the monthly membership fees.
A few customers, including Flower, told us they couldn't reach gym owner Forsham "Junior" Williams through his number listed on the gym's website.
"No service and still charging,” Flower said.
Williams’ attorney, however, claims Flower got those charges because he was about six months behind on payments.
But 13 Investigates reviewed Flower's bank receipts, showing he was charged $46.74 by the gym on August 5, August 30, and September 30, and $44.95 on October 31.
In December, 13 Investigates called Williams multiple times, on his cell, and at North Academy Fitness, but he never answered.
Williams, a convicted child sex offender, is required to register his address with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. According to the state business licensing records, that address is connected to North Academy Fitness.
Using that public information, 13 Investigates went to Williams’ state-registered home address in Monument.
He didn't answer the door.
Through the Colorado Secretary of State's Office, 13 Investigates learned that Williams formed an LLC, buying Blue Mountain Creamery in June 2022, an ice cream shop in the University Village shopping center.
After repeated failed attempts to reach him, 13 Investigates went to Williams’ ice cream shop.
He quickly kicked us out of the store, saying, “Sir you better leave right now."
Within the next hour following the ice cream shop encounter, Forsham Williams Jr. called the KRDO NewsChannel 13 newsroom.
Williams told 13 investigates he's been sick, battling cancer. He blamed his card vendor Wellyx for customers being wrongfully charged.
13 Investigates reached out to Wellyx multiple times, but the company hasn’t returned our emails or calls.
Williams' attorney sent 13 Investigates records appearing to show 103 gym customer refunds from December 12 to January 23. That includes an additional 77 that were sent after KRDO first published a story in December.
Williams' attorney told 13 Investigates this was as far back as he could go in his Wellyx account, and that he was working on getting additional records.
Digging further into Williams’ criminal record revealed he's been in prison for fraud before.
Williams was convicted on a felony identity theft charge for stealing a woman's credit card information back in 2009. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor check fraud charge, accused of defrauding a bank out of more than $1,000.
13 investigates found Williams previously owned another gym too, Studio Fitness in the Gleneagle area of Monument. Secretary of State filings show the gym was registered from 2018 until sometime in 2021.
Reviews online show dozens of customers claiming they kept getting charged after canceling their memberships at that gym too.
13 Investigates was given a recording of a phone call between Williams and a customer trying to quit his gym. Here's a portion of that call:
In the call, Williams tells the customer, "I'll charge your credit card each and every ****ing month. Then I'll put you in collections. Then I'll go after you personally. Okay. I've got more mother****ng money than you personally."
Williams’ attorney said this recording is a “cherry-picked” portion of a longer conversation and that Williams, "does not believe that this customer continued to be charged for the membership."
However, court records show the customer on the other end of that call claims they still got charged in February 2022. They filed a lawsuit in March 2022, seeking about $91 from Williams. $59.95 for the gym membership, and another $31 for the court filing. The suit was eventually dismissed and settled out of court.
Issues haven’t just stemmed from gym customers, former employees at Blue Mountain Creamery said Williams owes them money too.
"He wouldn't pay us,” former General Manager Adrienne Stejskal claims.
She and another employee who spoke with 13 Investigates, Jacob Price, worked at the creamery before Williams began running the store in the summer of 2022.
The pair claims they never got paid their final paycheck for working from June 29 through July 12, 2022. That, despite asking Williams numerous times, including in a demand letter sent by certified mail.
Williams’ attorney said they're aware of the demand for wages, but claims the former ice cream shop owner was supposed to pay them until September 1.
The former owner told 13 Investigates that's not true.
He provided a notarized sales agreement, signed by Williams and the former owner on June 6. It does not mention the former owner paying employees through September 1, 2022.
Stejskal said she's owed $335 for more than 27 hours of work. Price claims he's owed $329 for more than 35 hours.
“It's been over six months, and he still hasn't reached out to us trying to pay us, any of us,” Price added.
Williams claims he tried to make it right with the employees in August but said they wouldn't allow him to take pictures of their IDs and social security cards. He claims that the previous owner took those records. The previous owner denies that as well.
“I wouldn't trust that man with any of my banking information, any credit card information,” Price said.
There is now an ongoing Colorado Department of Labor and Employment investigation into the failure to pay claims. State labor officials declined to comment on the specific allegations because the case is still considered active.
Colorado Springs Police told 13 Investigates that the allegations of membership charges for a closed gym and failure to pay employees are civil matters and not criminal.
Williams called KRDO Wednesday, asking how he could “settle his grievance” with KRDO. 13 Investigates asked him for another interview. Williams said he would ask his attorney, but 13 Investigates never heard back. Williams previously told 13 Investigates that he “apologizes to anyone impacted by the gym closure.”
The Colorado Attorney General declined to comment on the situation with Williams, only recommending people file a fraud complaint with his office.
Customers of closed Colorado Springs gym say they are still being charged