Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Zumba instructor gets 10 months for prostitution

AP, ALFRED, Maine

A high-profile prostitution scandal featuring sex videos, adultery, exhibitionism and more than 100 clients drew to a close on Friday when a Zumba fitness instructor who turned her small town studio into a brothel was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

Alexis Wright was sentenced under a plea agreement to 20 counts, including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception.

The scandal in the seaside town of Kennebunk, known for its sea captain’s mansions, beaches and New England charm, became a sensation following reports that Wright had at least 150 clients, some of them prominent.

US Justice Nancy Mills extended wishes for success after the sentence was imposed.

DIFFICULT CHILDHOOD

“Based on what you have to say and what I know about you from your attorney, I know that you will succeed when you’re released and that you will prevail. I wish you success,” Mills said.

Wright’s attorney said the defendant had a difficult childhood, witnessing domestic violence and suffering sexual abuse, before she met Mark Strong, her eventual business partner.

She said Strong used her background to manipulate her.

Addressing the judge through tears, Wright said she felt relief when police raided her business on Feb. 12 last year because she wanted out.

She said she intends to work when she is released to help other women in similar situations.

The 30-year-old Wright was accused of conspiring with an insurance business owner to run a prostitution business in which she videotaped clients without their knowledge and kept detailed records over an 18-month period indicating she made US$150,000 tax-free.

She also collected more than US$40,000 in public assistance.

Her business partner, Strong, 57, was convicted of 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

The married father of two, who has acknowledged having an affair with Wright, was originally charged with 59 counts.

Prosecutors say paid sex happened in her studio, apartment and an office, where tenants complained about moaning and groaning.

ABUNDANT EVIDENCE

Electronic evidence was plentiful. Wright used to send a live video stream of sex acts to Strong.

Videos also showed them speaking openly of ledgers, payments and scheduling.

Evidence unsealed after the trial indicated electronic exchanges in which Wright talked about the business goals: nine clients a week, 45 clients a month.

They also discussed scheduling, insurance payments, her sexy outfits and clients’ preferences.

She even appeared to seek advice from Strong after encountering an unhappy client.

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