|Man to Be Sentenced in Zumba Sex Case|
|By DAVID SHARP Associated Press||Mar 20, 2013, 9:42 AM|
An insurance agent accused of running a prostitution operation with a Zumba fitness instructor was due to be sentenced for what prosecutors described as an elaborate and high-tech house of prostitution in a small coastal town.
Mark Strong Sr. was convicted this month of 12 counts of promoting prostitution and a separate conspiracy count.
Prosecutors were seeking a 364-day jail term for Strong while the defense asked for no more than 14 days in jail. He was to be sentenced on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Strong cultivated a relationship with fitness instructor Alexis Wright and controlled the prostitution operation in Kennebunk, receiving Google calendar alerts for her appointments, reviewing Wright's ledgers, recording the encounters on video, suggesting ways to maximize profits, and running clients' license plate numbers through the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles database.
From his office 100 miles away, Strong watched the sexual encounters live via Skype, not just because he was a voyeur but because he was both monitoring the business and 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. He says he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn't profit from prostitution.
But prosecutors said in their sentencing memo that Strong received 20 percent of revenues, and that email traffic between the two indicated paid sex acts continued even after police raided Wright's dance studio, office and home in Kennebunk.
Strong's lawyers previously asked the judge to invalidate 12 of the 13 counts against their client, arguing that prosecutors never spelled out specifically how Strong's actions promoted prostitution and that the charges overlap.
If the judge dismisses the counts, Strong should not be sentenced to jail at all, his lawyers argued. If all 13 guilty verdicts stand, then he should be sentenced only to 14 days in jail, they say.
Strong's attorneys described him as a community leader, husband and father who had no previous criminal record and poses no threat to society.
"Mark Strong is loved by his family and friends, who describe him as unfailingly generous, thoughtful, and extremely remorseful for how his poor personal decisions — and the resultant criminal charges and publicity — have negatively and perhaps irreparably impacted those closest to him," attorney Dan Lilley wrote.
The case has drawn wide attention because of the scale of the operation and the number of alleged clients — more than 150 of them. People who've seen the list say some of Wright's clients were prominent. More than 60 have been charged so far.
Wright, who now lives in Wells, faces 106 counts, including prostitution, privacy violations, tax offenses and welfare fraud.
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