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Zumba Prostitution Scandal: Mark Strong Sr., businessman, to be sentenced today in Maine sex case

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2013 photo, Mark Strong Sr., leaves the Cumberland County Court House, in Portland, Maine. Delayed by a pair of appeals to the state supreme court, jury selection is set to resume Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 in the trial of an insurance agent accused of helping a fitness instructor use her Zumba studio as a front for prostitution. Justice Nancy Mills convened attorneys for defendant Mark Strong and fitness instructor Alexis Wright on Tuesday to get the case back on track after the state supreme court upheld the dismissal of 46 counts against Strong. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) Robert F. Bukaty

Mark Strong Sr. leaves the Cumberland County Court House in Portland, Maine on Jan. 18, 2013
AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

(CBS/AP) PORTLAND, Maine - An insurance agent is scheduled to be sentenced today for being the business partner of a Zumba fitness instructor in what prosecutors described as an elaborate and high-tech prostitution operation in a small coastal town. 

PICTURES: Zumba instructor accused of prostitution

Mark Strong Sr., 57, was convicted earlier this month of 12 counts of promoting prostitution and a separate conspiracy count. Prosecutors were seeking a 364-day jail term for Strong while the defense asked for no more than 14 days in jail.

Prosecutors said Strong cultivated a relationship with fitness instructor Alexis Wright and controlled the prostitution operation in Kennebunk. They say he received Google calendar alerts for her appointments, reviewed Wright's ledgers and recorded the encounters on video. They say he also suggested ways to maximize profits, and ran clients' license plate numbers through the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles database.

From his office 100 miles away, Strong watched the sexual encounters live via Skype, not just because he was a voyeur but because he was both monitoring the business and acting as Wright's protector, prosecutors said.

"Based on his sophisticated crime, his calculation in committing these crimes, his utter lack of remorse, the court should impose a sentence that gives fair warning that this type of criminal enterprise is not tolerated in Maine," the prosecutors wrote.

Strong acknowledged helping 30-year-old Wright open her Kennebunk dance studio and having an affair with her. He said he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn't profit from prostitution.

But prosecutors said in their sentencing memo that Strong received 20 percent of revenues, and that email traffic between the two indicated paid sex acts continued even after police raided Wright's dance studio, office and home in Kennebunk.

Strong's lawyers previously asked the judge to invalidate 12 of the 13 counts against their client, arguing that prosecutors never spelled out specifically how Strong's actions promoted prostitution and that the charges overlap.

If the judge dismisses the counts, Strong should not be sentenced to jail at all, his lawyers argued. If all 13 guilty verdicts stand, then he should be sentenced only to 14 days in jail, they said.

Strong's attorneys described him as a community leader, husband and father who had no previous criminal record and poses no threat to society.

"Mark Strong is loved by his family and friends, who describe him as unfailingly generous, thoughtful, and extremely remorseful for how his poor personal decisions -- and the resultant criminal charges and publicity -- have negatively and perhaps irreparably impacted those closest to him," attorney Dan Lilley wrote.

The case drew wide attention because of the scale of the operation and the number of alleged clients -- more than 150 of them. People who've seen the list said some of Wright's clients were prominent. More than 60 have been charged so far.

Wright faces 106 counts, including prostitution, privacy violations, tax offenses and welfare fraud.

Complete coverage of the Zumba Prostitution Scandal on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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