January 23, 2013

Strong's defense has 12 witnesses on list

Separate from the trial in Alfred, two men admit to engaging a prostitute and 11 others plead not guilty.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Gillian Graham ggraham@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED – Mark Strong Sr.'s defense lawyer could call more than a dozen witnesses in his client's trial, including a former Kennebunk police officer whom Strong, an insurance agent and private investigator, allegedly investigated.

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Mark Strong Sr.

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Alexis Wright

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

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Daniel Lilley, Strong's attorney, filed a witness list Tuesday with 12 names, including Nicholas Higgins and his ex-wife, Melissa Higgins.

Lilley has alleged that Strong was investigating Nicholas Higgins and Audra Presby, a Kennebunk police investigator and one of the lead investigators of Alexis Wright's alleged prostitution operation in town.

In October, Strong claimed that he was arrested in retaliation for investigating Kennebunk police on Wright's behalf after she told him she was concerned that they were harassing her.

Strong said his investigation uncovered unprofessional conduct by Presby. The town of Kennebunk denied Strong's allegations, saying that it never harassed Wright or Strong, and that the searches of their properties were based on probable cause that a crime had been committed.

Also on the list is James Strong, Mark Strong's brother, who is a social worker and a minister. Lilley also said he reserved the right to call anyone on the state's witness list, which has 60 names on it, including police officers and 18 men who have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of engaging a prostitute in connection with Wright.

On Wednesday, two men who were charged with engaging a prostitute pleaded guilty in Biddeford District Court.

Derek M. Chapman, 32, of Portland, entered a guilty plea and paid a $400 fine. Brian R. Bedard, 38, of Biddeford, pleaded guilty and paid a $500 fine.

Eleven men who were charged with engaging a prostitute and scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court on Wednesday filed not-guilty pleas and did not appear before a judge. They will be scheduled for trials in District Court or York County Superior Court.

Those who entered not guilty pleas are: Peter B. Chavonelle Jr., 47, of Windham; Jeffrey A. Rogers, 38, of Scarborough; Jason A. Douin, 38, of Augusta; Wendall Wayne Fessenden, 62, of Kennebunkport; Michael A. McInnis, 53, of Saco; Jeffrey R. Beaupre, 46, of Lyman; Thomas F. Powers, 56, of Edgecomb; Jeffrey L. Comeau, 35, of Berwick; Craig S. Patterson, 53, of South Portland; Stanley H. Cornwall Jr., 50, of Buxton; and William Lee Kerr, 53, of Augusta.

The charge of engaging a prostitute against a former official of the South Portland Church of the Nazarene was dismissed.

The charge filed in November against James Andrew Ferriera, who resigned his position with the church before his name was announced by Kennebunk police, was dismissed Jan. 2 because he pleaded guilty to another charge, according to court records. The records did not indicate the charge.

 

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