Oh, Snap! Halfaday gym ownership claim refuted

Back in the spring, after James Halfaday announced a run for City Council, he met with a reporter at Snap Fitness and acted like he owned the place, and, actually, claimed he did. Halfaday's alleged co-ownership of the 24-hour gym on Zan Road went unchallenged from April until September.

Photos of the gym appear on his election website, and local media, including the Daily Progress, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and the Hook, reported it; and he's listed in Cvillepedia as the co-owner of the fitness center. It was only after a story in the September 8 issue of the Hook"Quake casualty? Council candidate claims knock-out blow"– that an email from attorney Brad Young showed up in a Hook reporter's inbox on behalf of Mike and Nancy Hamdani, owners of The Long Run Inc.

"Mr. and Mrs. Hamdani are the sole owners of Long Run, which in turn is the sole owner of the Snap Fitness franchise in Charlottesville," writes attorney Young. "This state of affairs has existed since Snap Fitness opened in August 2008. Mr. Halfaday does not have and has never had any ownership interest in either Long Run or the Snap Fitness franchise in Charlottesville."

Halfaday did not respond to emailed requests for comment from the Hook; and, for the past two weeks, dialing his phone number has resulted in a busy signal.

After the August 20 Democratic primary, in which Halfaday finished seventh out of seven candidates, he continued to make increasingly more bizarre news.

In late August, Halfaday, Charlottesville's first openly gay candidate, obtained an emergency protective order against Nina Gregory, a volunteer for Council candidate Kathy Galvin. He told NBC29 that Gregory, who is married, approached him romantically and allegedly sent him 134 text messages and numerous harassing phone calls, including the message, "I love you. I want to be there. I've got a knife for us."

"There's absolutely no truth to these allegations," Gregory told the Hook August 29, the day she was arrested for allegedly violating the protective order. 

Later, Halfaday posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a neck-collar to bolster his claim that he'd been knocked unconscious by a falling ceiling in his sunroom during the August 23 earthquake, apparently making him the only quake-related injury reported in Charlottesville.

While Young says that Halfaday is or was a member at Snap Fitness, the lawyer calls the former candidate's ownership claim "pretty breathtaking" and says the Hamdanis are not available for comment.

"They have no desire to get injected in the Halfaday story," says Young. As for their months-long silence on the Halfaday claim that he owned their business, Young says, "They kept thinking the media would find out."

Ahem.

Halfaday's website shows him pictured with former 5th District Congressman Tom Perriello and with UVA President Teresa Sullivan. Former Charlottesville Sheriff Cornelia Johnson and former fire chief and vice mayor Julian Taliaferro are also pictured– because they endorsed Halfaday.

"He seemed like a nice enough young guy who wanted to serve the community," says the former chief, who knew Halfaday from his involvement as a fire department volunteer. Taliaferro says he was unaware that the claim of owning Snap Fitness might be fabricated.

"If that's true," says Taliaferro, "it would be a little disturbing."

Motivational instructor Charles Alexander, who goes by the moniker Alex-Zan, also endorsed Halfaday.

"I don't really know him," concedes Alexander. "I met him at Cville Coffee, and he came up and said, 'I've heard about your work with young people.' He said he runs a fitness outfit and would consider supporting my event."

Neither Taliaferro nor Alexander say the Halfaday brouhaha will deter them from making future political endorsements.

"You go mostly on face value," says Alexander. "Every week, there's a coach or someone in the political system who's been doing something unethical for 20 years. You just don't know."

Still, he says of his Halfaday encounter, "It is strange."

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