Prostitution investigation may yield more arrests

The Pura Vida/Zumba Studio in Kennebunk has been the focus of an investigation by Kennebunk police into suspicious activities, including possible prostitution, that began in September 2011.
Matt Wickenheiser | BDN
The Pura Vida/Zumba Studio in Kennebunk has been the focus of an investigation by Kennebunk police into suspicious activities, including possible prostitution, that began in September 2011.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted July 12, 2012, at 6:06 p.m.

THOMASTON, Maine — The investigation into a possible prostitution operation connected to a local insurance agency could take several months to complete.

Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee said Thursday that materials collected from Tuesday’s searches of the office of the Strong Agency and Strong’s home will have to be reviewed. He said it may be several more months before others are charged.

Mark W. Strong Sr., 56, of Thomaston was arrested Tuesday and charged with promotion of prostitution.

The investigation uncovered evidence that the operator of a dance studio in Kennebunk would provide driver’s license numbers to Strong to check through the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to an affidavit filed in court by Kennebunk police. Strong would have had access to the bureau’s database as an insurance agent and a licensed private investigator.

Maine Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said the only information available to private investigators that is not available to the general public in records requests through the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles are the home addresses of motorists. McCausland said insurance agents also have access to those home addresses to use when they are enrolling people in insurance.

He said use of the database is monitored by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. A telephone message was left Thursday afternoon with the communications director for the bureau regarding what monitoring is done.

In addition to the insurance agency, Strong operated Strong Photography & Modeling Inc.

The office for this business once was located at the Sharp’s Point office building on Mechanic Street in Rockland. Jim Sharp, owner of the complex, said Strong leased office space there until about three years ago.

He said there were no problems and that Strong was a good tenant.

The website for Strong Photography & Modeling includes photographs of scantily clad women.

The telephone number listed on the website has been disconnected.

Lt. Bean Burpee said the department has become aware of that website but would not comment on whether it was being looked at in connection to the prostitution investigation.

The affidavit filed by police alleges that Strong was involved in promoting prostitution in Kennebunk from October 2010 through February 2012.

The investigation began in September 2010 after Kennebunk police received anonymous telephone calls from residents who believed there were suspicious activity at the Pura Vida/Zumba Studio at 8 York St. in Kennebunk and later at nearby office space rented by the studio owner, according to the affidavit filed in Biddeford District Court for Strong’s arrest.

Based on information gathered during their investigation, police executed search warrants at the studio, the office space and the studio owner’s home in Wells. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the studio owner because she has not been charged with any crimes.

In executing the warrants, police seized electronic client ledgers which included video recordings of the studio owner performing sex acts on males, reportedly without the males being aware of the recordings, according to the affidavit. The ledgers listed detailed records of payments and police found that the acts generated income of about $150,000, according to the affidavit.

The review of those records determined that Strong had a significant business and personal connection to these illegal acts, according to the affidavit. The police said they found significant bank records, insurance documents and telephone records of the connection.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/12/news/midcoast/prostitution-investigation-may-yield-more-arrests/ printed on September 18, 2014