March 2, 2013

What's a 'pimp'? Question at core of Zumba trial

Meanwhile, a Kennebunk police officer testifies Mark Strong is the man speaking to Alexis Wright in videos of her trading sex for money.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Mark Strong Sr. is accused of helping Alexis Wright promote a one-woman prostitution business.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Kennebunk police Officer Audra Presby

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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"When I performed the online search, not only did I find this site, Sensual Body Works by Lydia, I also found ... online sex videos of this individual," Presby said.

Presby said she arranged for Agent Kyle Moody, a Saco police officer assigned to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, to call the number listed on the blog in December.

Prosecutors played the recording of Moody making the phone call. He asked what paying for an hour's massage could get him. When he asked whether it would buy him sex, the woman on the recorded call responded "OK," and they discussed meeting.

Moody testified last week that he never followed through with the appointment.

"We were still trying to confirm all these suspicious-activity calls," Presby testified Thursday.

It wasn't until months later, on Valentine's Day 2012, that police obtained a warrant and searched Wright's Zumba studio, her business office at 1 High St. in Kennebunk, her home in Wells and her vehicle.

Strong co-signed Wright's lease for the Zumba studio, but Presby testified that officers seized nothing there.

At the office, police seized condoms, a bottle of Astroglide, four bottles of baby oil, two computers, an external hard drive, an iPhone and a Maine private investigator's assistant license in Wright's name, Presby said.

Neither Presby nor prosecutors have said anything to indicate the importance that Wright's private investigator's badge and license may have in the trial.

However, Strong was a licensed private investigator at the time of the investigation, and his attorneys say he was targeted by police for looking into unprofessional conduct in the Kennebunk Police Department, including an affair that Presby had with her supervisor in violation of town policy.

Presby admitted on the stand Friday that she had an affair with Lt. Nicholas Higgins and was reprimanded for it, and that Higgins quit the force as a result.

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, faces 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiring to promote prostitution. His trial was initially expected to last three weeks, but after two weeks, more than 40 witnesses remain to be called.

Wright, 30, of Wells, is scheduled to stand trial in May on 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, violation of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.

The case has drawn international attention, in part because Wright is suspected of keeping a meticulous list of customers, including prominent figures. Sixty-six have been charged, and 18 had been convicted by the end of 2012.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

sdolan@pressherald.com

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