And so the coffin lid slammed shut on the Zumba fitness instructor, 30-year-old Alexis Wright (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). She pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced today for the now infamous prostitution conspiracy in Kennebunk, Maine.
The defendant originally had a codefendant who was alleged to have been part of the conspiracy. That gentlemen, 57-year-old insurance agent Mark Strong with two kids, was allegedly her business partner in the prostitution ring. He did not plead guilty. In March, he went to trial. He lost.
He was convicted of 12 counts of promotion to commit prostitution and one count of conspiracy to commit prostitution on March 6. According to prosecutors, strong help to the defendant manage the prostitution.
The price, at least in terms of sentencing, that strong was presented with after trial was 20 days in prison and a $3000 fine. This sentence was later reduced, apparently, by five days for good behavior.
As mentioned, the defendant pleaded guilty. She did not put the prosecution through the time and expense of a trial. She admitted operating the prostitution business out of her dance studio in Kennebunk.
Her sentence for this consideration was 10 months in jail.
Apparently, the Defendant Was charged approximately 15 months ago, after police raided her business and seized a cachet of evidence which included client rosters and video footage of dozens of sexual encounters with local man. She was charged with 20 misdemeanor counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion, and theft by deception, according to a court document obtained by the Portland Press Herald
This was no ordinary prostitution case… Not that law enforcement does not take every chance possible to celebrate when they pull off a prostitution sting. This one gained international attention.
Lots of sexy evidence… Very close to a home of ex-president Bush… Large scale inexpensive police investigation.
According to the Bangor Daily News, The prosecutors had offered the defendants a plea deal under which they would drop the majority of the charges and “allow her to sidestep a potentially embarrassing-and costly-trial”. No agreement with the prosecution may have been made, but the defendant decided to plead guilty and let the judge decide the sentence.
At the sentencing hearing, the Defendant’s attorney argued to the court that her client endured a traumatic childhood in which she was the victim of sexual abuse. For her part, the defendant, in tears, told the judge that she plans to work with women with histories of abuse when she’s released from jail.
“It’s my intention to stand up for what is right. When I’m out, I’m going to pursue helping people fight through situations that are similar to mine. I’m optimistic that something good will come out of this,” she is reported to have said.
Prosecutors said that Wright kept detailed ledgers showing she made $150,000 over 18 months through prostitution while simultaneously netting upwards of $40,000 in public assistance. Prosecutors are seeking restitution of $57,280, according to The Associated Press.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Plea Bargains And Prostitution Cases
Generally, criminal defendants get less of a sentence if they plead guilty rather than choosing to go to trial. This might surprise you, given that it is any defendants right, by the Constitution, to go to trial. You might wonder how it is that they seem to get more time if they go to trial in most cases. This is generally explained by saying that a defendant is never punished for going to trial instead of pleading guilty. However, the lowest sentence before trial is often as an incentive to not put the prosecution through the time and trouble of a trial.
“What’s the difference between the two?”
This is not so easy to explain. It requires the abandonment of logic. It is too hot to do that today. Maybe another time.
In any event, in this case, the defendant who went to trial ended up with less time then the defendant who pleaded guilty. It would appear that this is because the Defendant was considered more a part of the operation, and faced more charges, then her gentleman friend.
Of course, given the size of the investigation and notoriety of the trial, it may surprise you that both criminal sentences are rather short. You might wonder if it was all really worth it.
This Boston criminal lawyer has discussed these issues with you many times in the past. There are a multitude of blogs blasting such operations and discussing the absurdity of continuing to treat prostitution as if it were drug dealing or robbery. In fact, if the sex trade were made legal, and taxed accordingly, it is unlikely that the tax fraud counts in this case would even exist.
One really must marvel at the hypocrisy that, while sex for a fee is illegal, it is not illegal to act in or film a pornography movie assuming that all participants are of age and acting out of their own free will.
Since films of the sexual acts were seized in this case, I wonder why the defense did not present that as an document. Oh well, not my case.
Meanwhile, closer to home, we are changing the scheduling of the Attorney Sam’s Take blogs again. Starting next week, I will be posting three blogs per week. Every effort will be made to make these available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I note that someone else may be adding her own entries in between.
In the meantime, stay cool and have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!
For the full story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/31/18655211-zumba-instructor-sentenced-to-10-months-in-jail-on-prostitution-charges?lite