Maine Zumba Madam

Mark Strong’s defense attorneys claim Fourth Amendment violations

Defense counsel for Mark Strong, the business partner of alleged “Zumba Madam” Alexis Wright, argued in court Wednesday that the police violated his client’s Constitutional rights when they searched their client’s house and work.

“The warrants lacked probable cause” Lilley wrote in his suppression motion. They “were based on uncorroborated and unsubstantiated hearsay, rumor and innuendo.” Lilley argued that because the first warrant was invalid all other search warrants based on upon that first warrant are also invalid.

Alexis Wright is accused of prostituting herself out of her Zumba dance studio in the upscale town of Kennebunk, Maine, and video recording her encounters. This scandal sent shockwaves through the small town as more than 150 “Johns” are estimated to have engaged Wright’s services. Officials have released the names of her clients in small batches, including a former South Portland Mayor James Soule and the Kennebunk High Varsity hockey coach Donald Hill, who has subsequently resigned.

The warrants obtained in the investigation of Strong were applied for by Kennebunk Police Officer Audra Presby. In her application to the court, Officer Presby wrote that the police had received several anonymous calls from concerned citizens that heard rumors of suspicious activity and possible prostitution coming from Wright’s Pura Vida dance studio.

Presby’s application also included statements by several named witnesses, but Lilley said that all of these statements were either unsubstantiated or not indicative of criminal behavior. Presby wrote that she was told by other law enforcement officers that employees of Toppings Pizza, located across the street from the Pura Vida studio, stated that they observed several males, sometimes dressed in business attire, enter the rear entrance of the studio and leave a short time later. The application also included evidence of a phone call made by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency purportedly to “Lydia”, aka Alexis Wright, to book sexual services for money as well as statements made by the landlord of Wright’s apartment.

“This is a search and seizure, fourth amendment issue, a Constitutional issue,” Lilley told reporters Wednesday.” We all have a constitutional right to be free from police searching our homes unless they have a legal basis. It’s not a technicality it’s a bill of rights issue. And what we’re asking for is to put it under a microscope as attorneys and ask if this intrusion, and taking everything from my client’s house practically and his office was justified under the law.”

Lilley also asked the judge to dismiss all of the charges against Strong because the evidence against his client was obtained illegally.

Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial

Source: AP

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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