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Penalty argued in Maine Zumba prostitution scandal

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm •  Published: March 20, 2013
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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An insurance agent accused of running a prostitution operation in a small coastal town in Maine received 20 percent of the income under an arrangement with the Zumba fitness instructor who engaged in sex acts for money, prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday.

And email traffic between the two indicated paid sex acts continued even after police raided the instructor's dance studio, office and home in Kennebunk, the memo said.

The 80-20 split in income revealed for the first time a financial arrangement between Mark Strong and Alexis Wright. Wright is accused of making more than $150,000 from prostitution over an 18-month period. She is to stand trial in May.

Strong was convicted earlier this month of 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and a separate conspiracy count, and is to be sentenced Thursday. Prosecutors are seeking a 364-day jail term for Strong while the defense is asking for no more than 14 days in jail.

Prosecutors said Strong cultivated the relationship with Wright and controlled the operation, receiving Google calendar alerts for her appointments, recording encounters via video, reviewing Wright's ledgers, suggesting ways to maximize profits, and running clients' license plate numbers through the Department of Motor Vehicles database.

He watched sexual encounters live via Skype, not because he was a voyeur but because he was a businessman who was acting as Wright's protector, prosecutors said.

"Based on his sophisticated crime, his calculation in committing these crimes, his utter lack of remorse, the court should impose a sentence that gives fair warning that this type of criminal enterprise is not tolerated in Maine," the prosecutors wrote.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, has acknowledged helping the 30-year-old Wright open her Kennebunk dance studio and having an affair with her. But he says he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn't profit from prostitution.

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