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Man in Zumba prostitution trial gets 20 days, $3,000 fine

Robert F. Bukaty / AP file

Mark Strong Sr., leaves the Cumberland County Court House on Jan. 18, 2013, in Portland, Maine.

The Maine insurance agent convicted of promoting prostitution was sentenced to 20 days in prison and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors said that Strong helped dance instructor Alexis Wright orchestrate a prostitution ring from her Zumba studio in the seaside town of Kennebunk.

Strong was convicted of 12 charges of promotion of prostitution and 1 count of conspiracy to promote prostitution on March 6.

Wright, 30, is expected to stand trial later this year. She has pleaded not guilty to 106 charges against her, including engaging in prostitution.

Prosecutors had asked that Strong be sentenced to as long as 364 days in jail. Strong’s defense attorneys argued the man should serve no more than 14 days.

Strong made an emotional mea culpa in court on Thursday before the sentencing proceedings began.

“Mostly I’d like to apologize to my wife and my sons and my entire family for causing so much harm,” Strong said, according to the Portland Press Herald, a local paper. “The next right thing for me to do is to ask for the help I need for myself, my spiritual growth, to become the person that I want to be.”

Strong’s wife asked the judge to “go easy” on her husband, the paper reported.

The case gained national attention as allegations emerged of a sprawling client list and videotaped sexual encounters between Wright and local men.

In January, Judge Nancy Mills dismissed 46 charges leveled against Strong, all of them related to alleged violations of privacy. The decision was upheld by the state’s highest court in February. Wright’s attorney’s filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Judicial Court that month stating that their client had a “vested interest in the resolution of this appeal.”

Also in February, Mills culled the number of “extremely sexual” Skype screenshots jurors would be allowed to see as attorneys for the defense argued that they could unfairly prejudice the jury.

The prostitution business generated $150,000 between October of 2010 and February of 2012, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed in York County Superior Court on March 19. Strong took in 20 percent of the proceeds, prosecutors wrote.

The parties and attorneys in the case were barred by Mills from talking to the media for much of the case, an order Strong’s counsel Daniel Lilley protested in a motion to reconsider last month.

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