PORTLAND, Maine — Alexis Wright on Friday pleaded guilty to 20 charges that she worked as a prostitute for more than a year and a half in her Kennebunk Zumba studio. Felonies in the case have been reduced to Class E misdemeanor crimes as part of the deal.
The deal reached Friday did not include an agreement on jail time. Prosecutors are recommending Wright serve 10 months in jail. She is due to be sentenced May 31.
Wright also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and theft charges.
Friday’s plea talks came a week to the day after her co-conspirator Mark Strong, 57, of Thomaston was sentenced to 20 days in York County Jail and ordered to pay $3,000 in fines as well as $80 per day of incarceration. Strong was convicted on 13 counts — 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to commit the crime of promotion of prostitution.
Wright had been indicted on 106 charges ranging from prostitution to invasion of privacy to welfare fraud.
The invasion of privacy charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement after the dismissal of those same charges against Strong in February.
As details of the deal were revealed around 4:30 p.m., after the court’s normal closing time, Wright kept her head down, appearing to weep.
The only thing Wright said Friday was “guilty,” when Judge Nancy Mills asked her how she pleaded.
Wright was ordered to pay $57,000 in fines and restitution to the state.
She appeared in court with only her lawyer. Sarah Churchill said Wright is married but her husband works out of state. She also said Wright now has a part-time job.
Churchill initially requested that Wright’s sentencing be postponed until July because her husband works out of state and she’s responsible for the family dogs. She also has a scheduled appearance in July on the custody of her son.
With Wright’s deal, a sordid chapter in Kennebunk’s history comes to an end, one that had seen the town thrust into the international spotlight as the case generated worldwide interest.
Kennebunk Police Chief Bob MacKenzie said of Wright’s deal, “we’re content with that.”
After allegations of retaliation and unprofessional behavior on the part of the department, MacKenzie said he felt his officers were vindicated in their handling of the case.
“We had a lot of hard work put into this,” MacKenzie said. “Obviously with Strong and his attacks, it added a different level to it. But we got a guilty conviction on both.”
MacKenzie said having Wright plead guilty to 20 charges showed that the investigation was worth the department’s time. He also said it’s good to put the investigation behind both the department and the community.
“This will put it to rest,” he said. “We’ll finally be able to move beyond this.”
Lead investigator Audra Presby of the Kennebunk police said though she wasn’t in the courthouse Friday, she was happy to hear the outcome.
“I’m sure the prosecutors from the DA’s office and AG’s office are pleased with this agreement and for that I am pleased as well,” she said. “It’s been a long road for all involved, including KPD and the town of Kennebunk. May 31 seems a long ways away, but that will be the finality we are all looking forward to.”