|Zumba Scandal: Wright Pleads Guilty|
|By JOHN SCHRIFFEN (@JohnSchriffen) and LAUREN EFFRON (@LEffronG)||Mar 29, 2013, 5:23 PM|
A Maine Zumba instructor who was charged with running a prostitution ring out of her dance studio has pleaded guilty to 20 misdemeanor counts, ending the high-profile case that captured national attention.
Former fitness instructor Alexis Wright, 30, had been accused of working with Mark Strong Sr. to operate a brothel. She was also charged with 106 counts of prostitution, violation of privacy, tax evasion and welfare fraud in a scandal that rocked the town of Kennebunk, Maine.
The plea deal included reducing the three tax-related felonies to misdemeanors, according to the Portland Press Herald.
Wright could face up to 10 months in jail and her sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 31. She will be free on bail until then.
Requests for comment from Wright's attorney were not immediately returned.
Strong, a married, 57-year-old former private investigator who owns an insurance agency, faced 59 misdemeanor charges, including promotion of prostitution and violation of privacy for allegedly video-recording the encounters between the alleged prostitutes and some prominent local men.
He was convicted of 12 counts related to promotion of prostitution and sentenced to 20 days in jail earlier this month, according to court documents.
Both Strong and Wright previously pled not guilty to all the charges against them before they went to trial in January.
The scandal unraveled this past summer when Kennebunk Police raided Wright's dance studio and a nearby office, where they confiscated detailed records and hours of video. After the raid, the police released a bi-weekly blotter on their website that documented arrests, complete with names, ages and home addresses relating to the case.
Bee Nguyen, the landlord for Wright's studio, called police after hearing unusual sounds coming from her office and seeing strange men come and go, according to court documents.
More than 150 men -- and at least one woman -- were being investigated for whether they paid for sex at Wright's Pura Vida Zumba dance studio, and 66 men faced misdemeanor soliciting charges.