February 22, 2013

Witness saw accused Zumba prostitute disrobe; 'really awkward'

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Testimony began Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 in the trial of Mark Strong Sr., right, who is accused of running a prostitution ring with Zumba instructor Alexis Wright. A Toppings Pizza employee and Wright's landlord testified against Strong on Thursday.

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West said Wright's was the only name on the lease.

Paul Demers, Kennebunk's building inspector, said Wright's and Strong's names appear on paperwork for the studio, with Wright as the tenant and Strong as the guarantor of the lease.

Wright is suspected of keeping a meticulous list of prostitution customers, including prominent figures. Sixty-six have been charged, and 18 had been convicted by the end of 2012.

Strong's trial stalled for more than an hour Thursday afternoon.

Police Officer Audra Presby, the lead investigator in the case, was scheduled to testify at 1 p.m. But at 11:09 a.m., the criminal clerk's office received a faxed letter from the law firm that represents the town of Kennebunk, addressing "confidentiality of municipal employee's personnel records."

Part of Strong's defense has been that Kennebunk police targeted him in retaliation for his work as a private investigator looking into unprofessional conduct in the department. Lilley has said that police seized a hard drive from Strong's house that contained all the details of his investigation. The hard drive was never seen after the police raided Strong's home in July, Lilley has said.

The lead prosecutor, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, said she talked to Natalie Burns, the attorney who sent the letter to the court, and learned that Kennebunk has a policy that allows it to expunge union members' personnel records. Presby now has nothing public on her personnel record.

The judge scheduled a hearing for 9:30 a.m. Friday, for Burns and Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie to appear before her, and instructed the jury to return for testimony at 10:30 a.m.

As attorneys dealt with Burns' letter, prosecutors had no witnesses at the courthouse besides Presby. The judge ordered McGettigan to find a witness.

McGettigan got Maine State Police Detective Lauren Edstrom to testify about evidence seized in July from Strong's insurance business in Thomaston.

The prosecution also expects to call several other state police, including detectives from the Major Crimes Unit and evidence collection experts.

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

sdolan@pressherald.com

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