The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 30, 2013

Zumba teacher could get jail in prostitution case

— PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The dance instructor who used her Zumba fitness studio as a front for prostitution faces jail time after pleading guilty in a case that captivated a quiet seaside town known for its beaches and picturesque homes.

The plea agreement, which calls for a 10-month sentence, spares Alexis Wright from the prospect of a high-profile trial featuring sex videos, exhibitionism and pornography. She's scheduled to be sentenced on May 31.

Wright quietly answered "guilty" 20 times on Friday when the judge read the counts, which include engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception.

"We're very satisfied with it. It's an appropriate outcome, given the gravity of her actions," Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell said after the brief court hearing.

The 30-year-old Wright was accused of conspiring with insurance agent Mark Strong Sr. to run a prostitution business in which she kept detailed records indicating she made $150,000 over an 18-month period. She was also accused of using a hidden camera to record sex acts without her clients' knowledge.

She was originally charged with 106 counts. All the counts in the agreement were misdemeanors, including three counts relating to welfare and tax fraud that were reduced from felonies.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was convicted this month of 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution and was sentenced to 20 days in jail. He was originally charged with 59 counts.

The scandal became a sensation following reports that Wright had at least 150 clients, leading to a guessing game of who might be named publicly in the coastal town of Kennebunk. Attorneys who have seen the client list say it included some prominent names. Those who have been charged so far include a former mayor, a high school hockey coach, a minister, a lawyer and a firefighter.

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