June 25, 2018
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Arraignments set for suspects in prostitution case

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ALFRED, Maine — A Thomaston businessman and a York County woman who police say operated a prostitution business in Kennebunk are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

The arraignment for Mark W. Strong Sr., 57, and Alexis S. Wright, 29, of Wells will be held in Cumberland County Superior Court, according to a York County Court clerk.

Strong was indicted Wednesday on 59 criminal charges. Those include 12 counts of promotion of prostitution, two counts of conspiracy, and 45 counts of invasion of privacy with an inside device. The latter charges refer to the clients of the business being videotaped without their knowledge or consent. All the charges, except the two conspiracy counts, are Class D offenses which carry a maximum jail sentence of a year in jail. The conspiracy counts are Class E crimes which carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

Wright was indicted on 106 criminal charges. Those include failure to pay taxes in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Other offenses include engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy with an inside device, conspiracy, unsworn falsification, evasion of income tax and felony theft.

Indictments are a way for prosecutors to bring charges by presenting its evidence only to a grand jury.

Until Wednesday, Strong had been the only person charged in the case which consisted of an investigation that began with the Kennebunk Police Department receiving complaints about suspicious activities occurring at Wright’s Pura Vida-Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk.

Strong was arrested in July in Thomaston on a single count of promotion of prostitution.

The district attorney’s office in York County has stated in a motion filed last month that it intends to file criminal charges against many of the people on the “client list” maintained by Wright, which was part of the huge amount of records seized by police when they searched her dance studio, her offices in Kennebunk and her home in Wells.

The prosecution also has asked the court to prevent the state or defense from releasing information or discussing the matter publicly. Strong’s attorney Daniel Lilley has filed a motion in opposition to that protective order.

Mary Ann Lynch, the government and media counsel for the Maine Judiciary Department, said Friday that arguments also will be heard Tuesday on the protective order motion.

Justice Nancy Mills has been assigned to handle the cases.

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