PORTLAND, Maine — A Superior Court justice Tuesday refused to postpone the trial of Thomaston businessman Mark W. Strong Sr. on numerous prostitution-related charges.
Then defense attorney Daniel Lilley asked to withdraw as Strong’s lawyer because he said his client no longer has the financial resources to pay for the defense.
Justice Nancy Mills denied Tuesday morning a motion by the defense to continue the trial, scheduled to begin Jan. 22 in York County Superior Court, until at least Feb. 19.
She did not immediately rule on Lilley’s verbal request to withdraw from the case and asked the attorney to file a written motion.
Lilley said later Tuesday that a hearing on his request to withdraw will be held on Friday morning.
“My client is broke. His business has been destroyed by the adverse publicity,” he said.
Lilley said the state has unlimited resources it has used to prosecute this case. He said at least six different state attorneys have filed motions in the case and numerous police departments have participated in the investigation.
Because Strong, 57, owns his home and has a mortgage on it, he does not qualify for a court-appointed lawyer or court-appointed experts, the defense attorney said.
When Strong hired Lilley, there was only a single charge of promoting prostitution, the attorney said. Strong was later indicted and faces a trial on 59 counts of promotion of prostitution and invasion of privacy.
More than 60 men and one woman have been charged thus far with engaging a prostitute in connection to the case.
The amount of potential evidence turned over to the defense has been overwhelming, Lilley said.
Lilley said he had asked for more time to prepare for the trial because of the volume of potential evidence presented to the defense by the state. The York County dstrict attorney’s office opposed the request for a delay in the start of the trial.
If the justice rejects his motion to withdraw, Lilley said he expects the trial will start as planned next Tuesday. If Lilley is allowed to drop his client, Strong will have to find a new attorney or represent himself, Lilley said.
He also said Mills asked that Strong attend the hearing on Friday.
Lilley said that the state has estimated the trial will last two to three weeks, which he said is longer than most murder trials in the state.
Lilley also had filed a motion to have the trial moved outside York County but Justice Mills said she wanted jury selection to begin first before she made a ruling on that request, Lilley said.
Strong, the owner of Strong Insurance Agency, was arrested July 11 and has since been free on bail.
He is accused of conspiring with Alexis Wright, 29, of Wells, of running a prostitution business out of her Kennebunk fitness and Zumba studio. Both Strong and Wright have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
She will be tried separately.