Judge declines to dismiss charges in Zumba trial
ALFRED, Maine (AP) – A judge on Tuesday declined to dismiss any of the remaining 13 counts against an insurance agent accused of helping a Zumba instructor run a prostitution business, setting the stage for closing arguments.
Lawyers for Mark Strong Sr. asked the judge to dismiss all but one or two misdemeanor charges, citing problems with the indictment and arguing that prosecutors unnecessarily piled on charges.
Justice Nancy Mills said she was satisfied with the indictment and that the counts avoided duplication.
That set the stage for closing arguments Tuesday afternoon. The judge told jurors that the end was in sight for the delay-plagued proceeding, which began with jury selection in late January.
Strong, 57, of Thomaston, is accused of helping Zumba instructor Alexis Wright use her Kennebunk fitness studio as a front for prostitution. The married businessman has acknowledged having an affair with Wright and helping her open the studio but contends he didn’t profit from her activities.
On Tuesday, the final witness was Strong’s brother, an attorney who testified that he told police officers executing a search warrant at Strong’s home and office not to let Kennebunk officers have unsupervised access to the seized computers.
The defense has contended Strong was investigating alleged unprofessional conduct by Kennebunk police personnel and that the Kennebunk Police Department targeted Strong in retaliation because he was delving into internal police matters, including an affair that involved the lead investigator.
“It was my understanding that there was information on the computer that Kennebunk police officers did not want disclosed,” James Strong said. Prosecutors objected to his statement, and the judge sustained the objection.
One hard drive from Mark Strong’s office ended up with the Kennebunk investigator even though it was supposed to been kept by state police after its seizure. The defense contends the drive was blank when the investigator eventually delivered it to state police and that the drive could have contained Strong’s investigatory findings.
The prostitution scandal in Kennebunk attracted international attention after it was reported that Wright’s ledgers indicated she had more than 150 clients and made $150,000 over 18 months.
Testimony and videos presented to jurors in York County Superior Court indicated Strong was familiar with operational details of Wright’s prostitution, chatting via Skype before and after her paid sexual encounters, and watching the sexual acts from his office 100 miles up the coast in Thomaston.
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