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Maine Zumba prostitution promoter apologizes to wife at sentencing

March 21, 2013|By Michael Muskal
  • Mark Strong Sr. is sentenced to 20 days in jail for his role in a large-scale prostitution operation run out of a Maine Zumba dance studio.
Mark Strong Sr. is sentenced to 20 days in jail for his role in a large-scale… (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated…)

An insurance agent was sentenced to 20 days in jail for his role in a large-scale prostitution operation housed in a Zumba studio in the scenic beach community of Kennebunk, Maine, officials said Thursday.

The Zumba prostitution case attracted national, even international, media attention because of its size. It attracted more than 150 clients, some prominent, in the town of about 10,000. Many of the details, including the sale of sex in a fitness studio and the filming of some of the encounters, rattled the bucolic town, down the road from the Bush family compound.

Mark Strong Sr., 57, was sentenced to 20 days in jail and a fine of $3,000, a court clerk told the Los Angeles Times by telephone. Strong was convicted earlier this month of several counts of promoting prostitution and one count of conspiracy.

Before sentencing, Strong apologized.

“I guess I'm the only one who can know the remorse that I have. I do apologize for each of my selfish actions and the harm that I have caused many. Most importantly I want to apologize to my wife, my two sons and my entire family because I've caused so much hurt in so many ways, emotionally, physically and financially,” he said, his voice choking, according to the Associated Press report from the courtroom.

His wife, Julie, and their son Bradley broke down in tears as she pleaded for leniency.

“What started as my worst nightmare I could ever imagine has turned into one of God's greatest gifts because God has given me a new marriage with a new man, and he is the man I always knew he was,” Julie Strong told the judge. “When I first saw him and met him, I could see a kind and gentle soul. Nobody chooses to do what he does.”

According to the prosecution, Strong, of Thomaston, Maine, had a relationship with dance instructor Alexis Wright and helped run the prostitution operation in Kennebunk. Strong received Google calendar alerts for her appointments, reviewed the financial books and recorded the encounters on video.

Strong also watched the sexual encounters live via Skype, as part of his role as Wright’s protector, prosecutors charged.

Strong admitted having an affair with Wright and said he helped her open her dance studio. He said he lent her money that was repaid with interest and that he didn't profit from prostitution. Prosecutors said that Strong received 20% of the revenues.

Wright is accused of bringing in more than $150,000 from prostitution during an 18-month period. She is set to stand trial in May.

Prosecutors had sought a jail term of 364 days while the defense sought no more than 14 days in jail.


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