Alfred, ME — The Zumba prostitution scandal has resulted in its first criminal conviction.
Alexis Wright alleged accomplice Mark Strong was found guilty this week of various criminal offenses in the sex-for-hire scandal after a three-week trial. Strong, a married insurance agent, unsuccessfully tried to convince the jury that he was just having a fling with dance instructor Wright, who stands accused of running a prostitution ring out of her Zumba fitness studio in Kennebunk, Maine. The prosecution maintained that Strong managed Wright’s business, and presented evidence including emails and texts between the two, videotapes, and that his name was on the lease for the Zumba dance studio.
Zumba is a popular dance fitness and workout program.
Via Skype, Strong allegedly watched the hanky panky in the Zumba studio captured on hidden video cameras on his computer at his home about 100 miles away.
In the Zumba prostitution case, Strong was convicted on all 13 counts, 12 counts of promoting prostitution and one conspiracy count. The jury deliberated for about four hours. He will be formally sentenced later this month. These are all misdemeanors but he could face jail time.
Alexis Wright, who pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against her, is scheduled to go on trial in May, although plea bargain negotiations are underway with the prosecution. In general, a plea bargain means that a defendant admits guilt to one or more lesser offenses and gives up the right to trial in exchange for a lighter sentence. About 60 Zuma studio Johns also face charges.
The suspected exercise madam reportedly kept “meticulous” records of the sexual encounters, many of which were videotaped, which indicate the business made $150,000 over 18 months. Police investigations of the Zumba fitness studio began after locals reported cars coming and going to and from the studio and office at all house of the day and night, and men going in for “a half-hour or hour at a time,” according to the released police affidavit. The landlord reported in the affidavit that another tenant sometimes heard “moaning and groaning” coming from Wright’s office.