January 25, 2013

Strong's attorney argues for dismissing 46 counts

There were no violations of privacy, Daniel Lilley says, but prosecutors say it was illegal to record the johns.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED - An attorney for Mark Strong Sr., whose trial in the Kennebunk prostitution case is about to begin, argued Thursday for the dismissal of most of the 59 charges against Strong, saying people who break the law by paying for sex in a brothel can't have an expectation of privacy.

click image to enlarge

Mark Strong Sr., left, talks with attorney Daniel Lilley during a motions hearing Thursday. The judge said she would rule later on Lilley’s motion to dismiss 46 of the charges against Strong.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Strong faces 46 counts of violation of privacy. Prosecutors say he videotaped people who paid for sex with his business partner, Alexis Wright, at her Zumba studio in Kennebunk.

Strong's attorney, Daniel Lilley, argued that violation of privacy occurs when a person recorded in a private place is "entitled to privacy in that place," such as a restroom or a dressing room.

"It does not apply to bordellos, whorehouses and the like," Lilley said. "Those places are to commit crime. There is no expectation to privacy. If there is, it's illusory."

He said it would be like a bank robber who gets caught on a security camera being treated as a victim.

"Criminals become victims when their acts of crime are recorded without their knowledge?" Lilley asked. "It ain't gonna happen, I don't think."

Strong, 57, of Thomaston, has pleaded not guilty to all 59 counts, which also include promotion of prostitution and conspiracy to commit promotion of prostitution.

Lilley made his argument before Justice Nancy Mills on Thursday afternoon. His motion was one of four brought before Mills -- two by Lilley and two by prosecutors.

York County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Gordon argued against Lilley's motion to dismiss the charges, saying people have protection under the Fourth Amendment, which guards against illegal searches and seizures.

People who go to a place "to engage in sexual activity, whether illegal or not, expect not to be recorded," Gordon said. "The Fourth Amendment has protected people where they are engaged in legal or illegal activity."

The judge said she had to do more research before ruling on whether to dismiss the charges. She took the motion under advisement.

In Lilley's other motion, he argued that defense attorneys for some of the 66 people accused of engaging Wright for prostitution told him they had received letters from the prosecution pushing their clients to plead guilty or face more charges.

Lilley said the letters were a threat of retribution against Wright's accused customers to get them to come forward in time to testify in Strong's trial.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, said she had sent letters to the lawyers of some of the accused, making a plea offer with a deadline. To that point, her office had been charging people with a single count, she said.

"I had the option to go forward with other charges if they do not accept the offer," McGettigan said.

She said at least one has agreed to plead guilty in February.

The judge ruled in Lilley's favor and ordered prosecutors to provide Strong and his lawyers with copies of the letters that McGettigan sent.

In one of the prosecution's motions, Gordon sought to undermine an argument that Lilley has made, that Strong was targeted by the Kennebunk Police Department's lead investigator because Strong was investigating Kennebunk police.

Gordon sought to exclude any mention of Strong's work as a private investigator that delved into the private lives of officers, and talk of a computer hard drive seized from Strong's home that documented his investigation -- which prosecutors contend never existed.

The judge said the time line of events favors Strong's version of events and she will proceed on a "witness by witness" basis.

Prosecutors also sought to prevent Strong's lawyers from saying the criminal case against Strong has ruined his personal finances.

Gordon asked that the defense also be restrained from referring to "unlimited resources" used to investigate the case or referring to it as "prosecution on steroids."

Lilley said he has no plans to refer to Strong's finances in the trial. The judge said they could revisit the question of characterizing the prosecution during the trial.

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

sdolan@pressherald.com

 

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