Roger Wittenberns pleads guilty Photo by Chalabala / Getty Images.
Roger Wittenberns' blood-alcohol level after the 2016 accident that killed J. Gerald Smith was 0.15, almost twice the legal limit.

Lady of America Founder Pleads Guilty in Fatal DUI Crash

Roger Wittenberns was initially sentenced to two years in prison, but his health issues—which include multiple heart attacks and chronic back pain—persuaded the court to allow him to serve his sentence in his home.

Lady of America founder Roger Wittenberns pleaded guilty on Nov. 27 to charges of DUI manslaughter related to his 2016 car crash that killed an 82-year-old Uber driver. Wittenberns, 62, will not face jail time but was sentenced to two years of house arrest, 10 years of probation and must pay the deceased driver's family $20,000, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

J. Gerald Smith, a retired real estate agent-turned-Uber driver, was killed on Sept. 21, 2016, when 61-year-old Wittenberns' Lamborghini Murciélago collided with Smith's Buick Enclave at an intersection in Delray Beach, Florida.

Investigators told Club Industry in 2016 that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash. Wittenberns and his girlfriend had been eating and drinking downtown before they began speeding uptown in matching yellow sports cars. His blood-alcohol level after the accident was 0.15, almost twice the legal limit.

“There was no justice today,” Smith’s widow, Eloise, told the Sun Sentinel at Wittenberns' sentencing in Florida circuit court. “This man killed my husband. He was drunk. And because he’s rich, he’s getting away with it.”

Wittenberns was initially sentenced to two years in prison, but his health issues—which include multiple heart attacks and chronic back pain—persuaded Judge Laura Johnson to allow him to serve his sentence in his home.

“I have been humbled and humiliated by my actions,” Wittenberns said at his sentencing. “I have been and will continue to be vilified for my action by my community, the media, my friends and even one of my daughters. … I will carry this burden with a heavy heart for the rest of my life. I took a life. No words or actions will ever be enough to show sorrow and remorse. God knows my heart and soul. I am truly sorry for what I have done.”

Wittenberns is best known for founding the women-only Lady of America health club chain, of which he was president and CEO for 21 years. At the time of the 2016 accident, he was CEO of Diversified Health & Fitness, the owner entity of franchised club brands American Body Works, Zoo Health Clubs and Access Fitness.

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