The first Zumba prostitution trial has ended with a guilty verdict.
Insurance agent Mark Strong Jr. was accused of helping Zumba instructor Alexis Wright use her fitness studio as a front for a prostitution ring, reports Bangor's WLBZ-TV. Prosecutors had argued that the married businessman played an active role in managing the prostitution business, and even watched the sex acts live from his office via Skype.
Strong said he was only guilty of having an affair with the younger Wright. But the jury found him guilty of a whole lot more.
After more than four hours of deliberations, jurors found Mark Strong Jr. guilty of 13 counts: a dozen counts of promoting prostitution and one count of conspiracy, WLBZ reports. Strong faces up to 13 years in prison for the 13 misdemeanor counts, though it's been reported that it is unlikely he will face consecutive sentences given his lack of criminal record.
The conviction of Strong on all 13 counts is bad news for Wright, who faces her own criminal trial for prostitution and conspiracy. Wright's trial is scheduled for May.
While the criminal trials are separate, if prosecutors were able to prove that Strong promoted prostitution, they may also have the evidence to prove that the prostitution ring existed with Wright as the head of it.
Furthermore, since Strong was convicted of conspiracy, Wright will face an uphill battle in defending against that charge.
A conspiracy in Maine is a crime involving more than one person. To be convicted of the crime, a person needs to conspire or formulate a plan with at least one other person to commit a criminal act. So it is rare for only a single person to be convicted of conspiracy.
Lawyers for Zumba instructor Alexis Wright have already indicated that they will hold a settlement conference with prosecutors next week. A favorable plea deal may be the best Wright can hope for at this point.