Prostitution racket gets man jail time

2013-03-21 22:09

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Portland - An insurance agent who helped run a prostitution operation out of his mistress's Zumba studio and watched secretly videotaped sex acts was ordered on Thursday to spend 20 days in jail in a scandal that rocked a small town better known for its beaches and sea captains' homes than for crime.

Before being sentenced, Mark Strong snr apologised for the pain he'd caused his family, and his wife broke down in sobs while making a plea to the judge for leniency.

"I do apologise for each of my selfish actions and the harm that I have caused many. Most importantly I want to apologise 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," Strong said, his voice choking.

Prosecutors say Strong was involved in every facet of the Kennebunk operation with fitness instructor Alexis Wright, monitoring her calendar, reviewing her ledger, collecting dossiers on clients and watching the sexual encounters streamed to his office computer 160km away in Thomaston.

Strong even suggested ways to boost profits by marketing to higher-paying fetish clients and engaging in paid sex acts with multiple men at the same time, prosecutors said.

Minor charges

"This was not a man in love. This was not a voyeur. This was hard-nosed businessman," said Deputy York County District Attorney Justina McGettigan, who asked the judge to sentence Strong to 364 days in jail, noting that the prostitution continued last year even after police raided Wright's studio, office and apartment in Kennebunk.

Defence lawyer Dan Lilley asked for a maximum of 14 days in jail, telling the judge that police and prosecutors were overzealous in an investigation into fizzled with only two defendants and mostly minor charges.

Wright is due to stand trial in May. She faces 106 counts including prostitution, privacy violations, tax offenses and welfare fraud.

Strong, 57, has acknowledged helping the 30-year-old Wright open her dance studio. He said he loaned her money that was repaid with interest, and that he didn't profit from prostitution. But prosecutors said Thursday that he received 20% of Wright's revenue from the prostitution business.

His wife, Julie, arm-in-arm with their son, Brad, broke down in tears as she pleaded for leniency, telling the judge that her husband "suffers from an illness that is curable". She also said their marriage is better now that he's confronting his illness.

Justice Nancy Mills credited law enforcement for being diligent in what was initially investigated as a state-wide prostitution ring with the potential for extortion because clients had been videotaped without their knowledge.

In sentencing Strong, she took into account that he had no criminal record, was a community leader and had strong family ties, as evidenced by more than a dozen family members in court to show support for Strong.

Money

But she said jail time was warranted because of the duration and extent of the operation in which prosecutors say Wright made more than $150 000 over an 18-month period.

The judge imposed a 20-day sentence on the first count of promotion of prostitution, and concurrent sentences on the remaining 12 misdemeanour counts.

After the hearing, the judge revoked bail and Strong was taken away in handcuffs to begin serving his term in the York County Jail. The judge said Strong would complete his jail term in time to see his son get married.
- SAPA
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