18 more men, including former Portland planning board chairman, charged as johns in Kennebunk prostitution case
KENNEBUNK, Maine — Another list of names of men charged with paying for sex in Kennebunk was released Friday afternoon by the town police department.
The latest list of 18 names came 10 days after the first 21 men implicated as johns in the high-profile scandal were posted online by the Kennebunk Police Department. Among those announced Friday as having been charged as an alleged client in the prostitution case was Portland lawyer and former Portland Planning Board chairman Joe Lewis.
Lewis has perhaps the highest profile of the men charged yet. Lewis served on the planning board for four years, according to the biography posted on the website for his law firm, Port City Legal. He departed from the board last week, according to a secretary at the planning office. He also served on the city’s zoning board of appeals for five years.
The home address of Lewis released by the police matches the address used by Lewis on business filings with the state for Port City Legal until February of this year.
“Thanks for asking … but I have no comment,” Lewis said in an email Friday evening.
The case, in which police accuse Thomaston businessman Mark Strong and fitness instructor Alexis Wright of running a prostitution business out of Wright’s Kennebunk Zumba studio, has attracted national media attention.
The following is the list of the men released Friday who were charged with engaging a prostitute since Oct. 12:
Jason Rickett, 29, of Gorham; Dennis Sillon, 54, of Shapleigh; Michael Dente, 33, of Saco; Matthew Scott, 48, of Auburn; Matthew Dichard, 44, of Glenburn; Patrick Heelan, 56, of Scarborough; Nathaniel Thompson, 53, of Scarborough; Albert Tremblay, 46, of Hudson, N.H.; Kris Kamys, 65, of Hiram; Robert Chabot, 66, of Saco; Neil McDonald, 58, of Scarborough; Steven Houghton, 43, of South Berwick; Frank Parker, 61, of Freeport; Michael Wears, 52, of Sanford; Jason Nadeau, 38, of Scarborough; Joseph Lewis, 49, of Portland; Donald Fortin, 59, of Turner; Lawrence Ritchie, 48, of Deerfield, N.H.
With the addition of 18 men to the running list Friday, 39 individuals have now been charged as clients of the alleged prostitution business.
Among the previous batch of 21 names of men charged with engaging a prostitute were former South Portland Mayor James Soule, Kennebunk High School hockey coach Donald Hill and local lawyer Jens Bergens. Hill was the first to publicly lose his job in connection with the allegation, resigning from his coaching position two days after the first list was released on Oct. 15.
According to prosecutors, Wright kept meticulous records, including a list of approximately 150 clients from throughout the state, including some well-known public figures in southern Maine. Wright also allegedly videotaped her encounters with the johns, prosecutors have said.
Both Wright and Strong have pleaded not guilty to a slate of charges stemming from the alleged operation.
Kennebunk police Lt. Anthony Bean Burpee has said investigators are combing through Wright’s documents and, as they compile evidence to do so, incrementally charging clients with engaging a prostitute.
The names released Friday by police represent the men charged during the past two weeks. The department has indicated it would release biweekly lists of individuals arrested or issued summonses, regardless of the charges, and police plan to maintain that schedule through the prostitution case investigation.
The previous list of men charged with engaging a prostitute was delayed, issued on the Monday following the scheduled Friday, Oct. 12, release day, because of a motion filed in court by attorney Stephen Schwartz, representing two people on the alleged johns list, to keep the names from public dissemination.
Schwartz argued that, because of the alleged videotaping activity, the accused johns were also victims of the crime of invasion of privacy, and as victims, they should not be named publicly.
Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren initially ruled that the names of the charged johns should be released, but without home addresses, in an effort to provide the men with a layer of confidentiality. That ruling caused police to release just the first and last names of the men charged as clients — initially without middle initials, ages or addresses — creating some public confusion around men who were not charged, but have the same first and last names as the men who were.
Warren reversed his decision the following day, on Oct. 16, and allowed all identifiable information to be released, and Kennebunk police updated their published list to include middle initials, ages and addresses.
The list released Friday did not include middle initials. Lt. Bean Burpee said the department does not typically include middle initials in its biweekly arrest blotters and only did last time around to help give the media a little more information in lieu of ages and addresses.
This time, because they included ages and addresses for use in identifying the men, the department didn’t feel the middle initials were necessary.