Friday, April 18, 2014
KENNEBUNK — For those who thought the Kennebunk prostitution story was coming to an end when former Zumba instructor Alexis Wright pleaded guilty as part of a settlement deal last month, it was actually only the end of one chapter.
Police announced Friday night that they are now going to pursue charges against 40 more suspects believed to have paid Wright for sex in a one-woman prostitution business she ran with Mark Strong from a Zumba studio and business office in Kennebunk.
To date, 68 people have been charged with engaging Wright for prostitution. Of those, at least 27 have now been convicted of or pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and paid a fine.
The prostitution case has drawn international attention in part because Wright kept a meticulous ledger with more than 140 names of clients that linked names to times, dates, sex acts and amounts paid. She also kept more than 120 hours of videos of clients having sex with her, prosecutors have said.
Kennebunk police announced in a news release that they will conduct "an analysis of the quality of evidence investigators possess in order to determine if proof beyond a reasonable doubt has been reached."
Police are working toward making "a final charging decision by summer 2013," according to the news release.
The lead prosecutor in the case, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, said previously that the investigation into charging more people as Wright's clients had been suspended while Strong's trial was going on and Wright's case was active.
Before that, Kennebunk police had announced new names of people charged in the case in biweekly waves as part of the department's regular release of its arrest log every other Friday.
The biweekly announcements, which started last October but stopped by the end of the year, kept the Kennebunk community and surrounding area on edge in anticipation of which neighbor or venerated member of the community would appear on the latest list.
Wright, 30, of Wells, pleaded guilty on March 29 to 20 misdemeanors.
She is to be sentenced to serve 10 months in the York County Jail and owe more than $58,000 in fines and restitution.
Her sentencing date is scheduled for May 31, and she will remain free on bail until then.
In return for the guilty pleas, prosecutors reduced three felony charges for federal tax and state welfare violations to misdemeanors.
Wright had faced 106 charges. The two most serious -- theft by deception -- were punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Under the agreement, 86 counts were dismissed, including 46 counts of invasion of privacy.
Strong, 57, of Thomaston, was the only person charged in the Kennebunk prostitution case to take his case to trial. He was convicted on March 6 in York County Superior Court after a jury trial on 12 counts of promotion of prostitution and one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution.
Strong was sentenced to serve 20 days in jail and pay $3,000 in fines. He was released on April 5 after getting credit for good behavior and serving only 15 days in jail.
Prosecutors had in the early stages of Strong's trial listed the names of 18 men convicted of engaging a prostitute on the list of witnesses they intended to call.
They ultimately called none of those men to the stand.
The Press Herald has identified those 18 men, all convicted before January 2013, previously.
Since then, nine more men have pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge and been fined, according to the District Attorney's Office.
• Robert Chabot, 66, of 35 Clark St., Saco, pleaded guilty on Feb. 5, fined $1,000.
• Philip Parker, 66, whose address is listed as a post office box in Kennebunk, pleaded guilty on Feb. 5, fined $500.
• Jay Sanborn, 46, of 150 Elm St., Springvale, pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, fined $500.
• Michael Dente, 33, of 5 Allison Drive, Saco, pleaded guilty on March 1, fined $400.
• John Verrault, 50, of 1 Seasfields Lane, Saco, pleaded guilty on March 28, fined $700.
• Jeffrey Comeau, 35, of 77 Cemetery Road, Berwick, pleaded guilty on March 28, fined $400.
• James Soule, 58, of Fort Myers, Fla., pleaded guilty on April 4, fined $500.
• Nathaniel Thompson, 53, of 221 Spurwink Road, Scarborough, pleaded guilty on April 4, fined $1,000.
• Joseph Lewis, 49, of 80 Morning St., Portland, pleaded guilty on April 11, fined $400.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at