Police say 40 more Kennebunk Zumba prostitution johns could be charged: ‘We’re not covering up for anybody’
KENNEBUNK, Maine — With a guilty conviction and plea agreement reached for Mark Strong and Alexis Wright, the two key defendants in the Kennebunk prostitution case, police are now investigating potentially 40 more clients who allegedly paid Wright for sex.
A total of 60 men and one woman have already been charged with engaging a prostitute in relation to the case. Twenty-nine of those individuals have pleaded guilty to the charge, while some are requesting jury trials in York County Superior Court in Alfred.
“While officers and investigators continue to handle daily calls for service and other criminal investigations for Kennebunk residents, they will also begin examining approximately 40 more cases of clients suspected of having received services by Wright,” Kennebunk Police Lt. Tony Bean Burpee said in a release Friday.
Wright, 30, of Wells, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and her defense attorney on March 29, pleading guilty to 20 charges that she worked as a prostitute out of her Kennebunk Zumba studio for more than a year and a half. Wright is expected to serve 10 months in jail under the agreement, and to pay back more than $57,000 in fines and restitution. She is due to be sentenced on May 31.
One week before Wright reached her plea deal, her business partner, Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was sentenced to 20 days in the York County Jail after being convicted on 13 counts of promotion of prostitution and conspiracy to commit the crime of promotion of prostitution. He was released after 15 days for “good behavior.”
Kennebunk police said Friday they will conduct an analysis of the evidence they have against approximately 40 individuals to determine if they meet the several elements necessary for the charge of engaging a prostitute. They will also have to determine if there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prosecute the charges, Bean Burpee said.
“While probable cause is the standard of proof met with regard to charging an individual with a crime, investigators and prosecutors want to ensure, from a prosecutorial standpoint, that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is met before proceeding,” Bean Burpee said. “With this in mind, Kennebunk police are striving toward a final charging decision by summer 2013.”
Bean Burpee said more than 60 individuals were named so far as police collected evidence and determined there was enough against each individual to bring forward a charge. Police compared bureau of motor vehicle photos and information with ledgers kept by Wright and Strong as well as corresponding text messages and videos.
“There was no rhyme or reason,” Bean Burpee said of who was charged first and who remains.
While the question of high-profile names being on Wright’s client list still lingers, police emphatically said they are not giving immunity to anyone.
“We’re not covering up for anybody nor would we. Anybody we can prove is going to be charged,” said Chief Bob MacKenzie.
Wright was indicted in October 2012 on 106 charges, ranging from prostitution and invasion of privacy to welfare fraud. Under the plea agreement, 86 of those counts against her were dismissed, including 46 invasion of privacy counts.
She pleaded guilty to 14 counts of engaging in prostitution, one count of promotion of prostitution, two counts of evasion of state income tax and two counts of theft by deception, all misdemeanor charges. As part of the agreement, three felonies against Wright were reduced to Class D misdemeanor crimes.
In addition to the 10 months Wright is expected to serve in jail, she will serve a one-year suspended sentence following her release and will be placed on administrative supervision, according to the agreement.
Eight men have pleaded guilty in recent weeks to engaging a prostitute in the Wright case. Those men are:
• Jay P. Sanborn, 46, of 150 Elm St., Springvale, fined $500.
• Jeffrey L. Comeau, 35, of 77 Cemetery Road, Berwick, fined $400.
• Nathaniel Thompson, 53, of 221 Spurwink Road, Scarborough, fined $500.
• Robert Chabot, 66, of 35 Clark St., Saco, fined $1,000.
• Robert R. Labonte, 61, of 8 New County Road, Saco, fined $1,000.
• Philip K. Parker, 65, of 125 Ross Road, Kennebunk, fined $500.
• James A. Soule, 58, 9077 Shadow Glen Way, Ft. Myers, Fla., fined $500.
• John D. Verreault, 50, of 1 Seafields Lane, Saco, fined $700.