Records reveal details of alleged Kennebunk prostitution ring

The Pura Vida-Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk.
Matt Wickenheiser | BDN
The Pura Vida-Zumba dance studio in Kennebunk.
Posted Oct. 05, 2012, at 6:27 p.m.
Mark Strong
Mark Strong

KENNEBUNK, Maine — Alexis Wright and Mark Strong decided in October 2010 to set up a prostitution business in Kennebunk, a venture that would last until February 2012, generate more than $150,000 in income and eventually lead to the indictment of Wright and Strong on more than 160 charges, combined, according to court records.

Records attached to the indictments of both Wright and Strong tell a story of two individuals who for nearly a year-and-a-half allegedly ran an operation in which Wright would have sex with clients, secretly taping them on equipment set up by Strong, all the while collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fees.

Wright, 29, of Wells, and Strong, 57, of Thomaston, were both indicted Wednesday by a York County grand jury. Wright is facing 106 charges ranging from engaging in prostitution to tax evasion, while Strong is facing 59 charges, including promotion of prostitution and violation of privacy.

The indictment documents state Strong would assist Wright with investigating patrons and “controlling, managing, supervising or otherwise operating” the business.

The indictment also states Strong agreed with Wright to set up video recorders and/or Internet connections to record clients without their knowledge or their consent, allowing Strong to view the videos of the clients engaging in sexual acts with Wright. The document states Strong installed or used a device in a private place on more than one occasion for “observing, photographing, recording, amplifying or broadcasting sounds or events.”

Those records indicate that, while this was going on, Wright was receiving thousands of dollars in public assistance from the state, while reporting earnings of as little as $6,000 a year.

Attorney Sarah Churchill, who is representing Wright, said Thursday that she had seen the indictment and associated paperwork, but had no comment at this time.

DHHS says it was duped

Court records indicate Wright received more than $10,000 in food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families between Jan. 1, 2008, and Feb. 29, yet told the Department of Health and Human Services that her only income was from her work as a Zumba instructor and that she had only $225 in the bank.

According to copies of DHHS paperwork attached to the indictment records, Wright, then living in an apartment on Day Street in Kennebunk, reported in February 2010 that she was working at UNUM as a fitness instructor for $180 every two weeks, at Quest Fitness in Kennebunk for $72 a week and for the Kennebunk Parks and Recreation Department for $1,500 each quarter. Lines indicating former employment by the town of Yarmouth and University Southern Maine are crossed out.

DHHS said she also reported receiving $97 weekly for child support for her son.

As far as assets go, Wright listed in the DHHS paperwork her 2006 Toyota 4Runner and $225 divided between two bank accounts. She reported paying $285 in rent and $37 in utilities.

In May 2010, Wright said both she and her son were receiving MaineCare, and that her only income was $1,500 paid quarterly by the Kennebunk Parks and Recreation Department and $97 paid weekly for child support.

She crossed out previous income she had listed for her work as a self-employed fitness instructor for UNUM in Portland and Quest Fitness in Kennebunk.

As far as assets go, Wright again listed her 2006 Toyota 4Runner and $225 divided between two bank accounts. She again reported paying $285 in rent and $37 in utilities.

In March 2011, Wright’s DHHS paperwork shows she and her son were both receiving food stamps, MaineCare and other assistance and living at Pleasant Street in Kennebunk. Wright said her rent was $309 a month and she was paying $40 in utilities. Her income once again included the weekly $97 in child support, in addition to $9,450 in semiannual income as a self-employed dance teacher. Her assets were listed as the same.

By November 2011, Wright saidin her DHHS paperwork that she had moved to Loop Road in Wells, where she was renting a house from her mother for $750 a month plus utilities. Under income, she listed the same $97 in child support payments, but crossed out the line noting she made $8,232 a year from her dance studio. Below, she wrote, “Going out of business,” and drew an unhappy face.

Again, she reported having$225 in two bank accounts. She also noted that her son’s father was five weeks behind on child support payments. Another note in the file, possibly from a DHHS worker, reads, “She went to DHHS in Bidd. To sign up for non-welfare support.”

One of the indictment charges notes Wright “failed to disclose a TD Bank account(s) and/or other assets” on or about May 3, 2011.

Another notes that, on Nov. 16, 2011, Wright told DHHS she was going out of business and had no other income, which officials say was untrue.

Classes were being held at Wright’s studio as late as this summer, and police have said her alleged prostitution business was active through February 2012, generating income of more than $150,000.

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