Zumba Prostitution Trial: Tenants heard "groaning and moaning," landlord says

Alexis Wright turns towards her attorney Sarah Churchill, right, during her arraignment, Oct. 9, 2012, in Portland, Maine.
CBS This Morning
Alexis Wright
CBS This Morning

(CBS/AP) ALFRED, Maine - A landlord who rented office space to a Zumba instructor accused of being a prostitute testified Thursday he became suspicious when tenants heard "groaning and moaning."

PICTURES: Zumba instructor accused of prostitution

Also Thursday, a pizza shop manager told a jury that the woman disrobed in front of him during a delivery.

The risque details emerged in court as testimony began in the trial of Mark Strong Sr., an insurance businessman charged with 13 counts that accuse him of helping the fitness instructor engage in prostitution.

The woman, Alexis Wright, is accused of engaging in prostitution at the dance studio in Kennebunk, at an office across the street and at her home. Authorities have said she videotaped clients without their knowledge. She will be tried later.

Christopher West, a landlord who rented office space to Wright, testified he began receiving complaints from other tenants within a couple of weeks. He testified about loud music, moaning, groaning and laughter coming from the office.

He became suspicious when he witnessed men coming and going. He told police he intended to evict Wright but was asked to hold off because of an ongoing investigation. After police executed a search warrant, he said, he discovered a box of adult toys, a bin of used condoms and baby wipes and a massage table. An agent seized two video cameras, including one that was hidden.

Dan Racaniello, manager of a pizza shop next to the studio, testified that when he delivered spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, Wright came to the door wearing only a towel, which she dropped to reveal she was naked. He said she paid $40 for the $8 meal and told him to keep the change.

"She fussed around with her wallet and off goes the towel. I felt awkward," said Racaniello, who left her apartment stunned by the nudity and the generous tip, saying, "It made my day."

Strong and Wright have pleaded not guilty.

Strong helped Wright launch her Pura Vida dance-fitness studio by co-signing for her lease and loaning money with commercial notes that were repaid with interest. He contends he didn't know about allegations of prostitution, and testimony Thursday indicated that he didn't sign any documents related to the rented office.

The defense contends the married Strong engaged in bad behavior by having an affair with Wright but didn't engage in criminal conduct. Prosecutors, meanwhile, contend Strong communicated frequently with Wright about business details via video chat, email and text.

Complete coverage of the Zumba Prostitution Scandal on Crimesider