Strong faces one to three years in prison if convicted
Biddeford — The Thomaston insurance agent arrested on a charge of promotion of prostitution Tuesday is believed to have used his office to search a state database for potential clients, according to the affidavit and request for arrest warrant released in the Maine District Court in Biddeford July 11.
An investigator from the Kennebunk Police Department stated she had "reason to believe that Mark W. Strong Sr., doing business as Strong Agency and working with Statewide Investigations and/or Prism," is using the InforME system, a subsidiary of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database to query potential clients for Alexis Wright and other individuals for promotion of prostitution.
The investigator also found that Statewide Investigations Inc. and Strong Agency have the same post office box number, located in Thomaston.
Maine State Police had been assisting the Kennebunk Police Department for several months with an ongoing investigation of the crimes alleged in Kennebunk from October 2010 through Feb. 14, 2012.
The investigator said she had been a police officer for six years and had graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. She said she serves as a patrol officer and has investigated a number of felony crimes.
"I have been personally involved in this investigation of the crimes of promotion of prostitution," she said in the affidavit. She said she found probable cause to believe that Strong had committed the crimes, and that all the information in the affidavit had come from personal investigation or from known law enforcement officials involved in the investigation.
According to the affidavit, on March 5, 2010, Alexis S. Wright, doing business as Pura Vida Studio, obtained a building permit for a 2,500-square-foot dance studio at 8 York St., Kennebunk, in the same building as a pizza restaurant.
By September 2011, the Kennebunk Police began receiving phone calls from concerned citizens complaining of suspicious activity at 8 York St., the site of the Pure Vida/ZUMBA studio.
Lt. Daniel Jones and Chief Robert MacKenzie said they had been hearing rumors of possible prostitution and criminal activities involving a female associated with Pura Vida/ZUMBA studio.
Jones told the investigator that he had spoken with Toppings Pizza employees at the same address. Employees said they had witnessed many different motor vehicles driving behind the back of the building at all hours, and they observed men, occasionally wearing sport jackets and business dress, entering the rear entrance of Pure Vida and leaving about 30 minutes later.
On Dec. 22, 2011, a resident agent of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency called a woman named "Lydia," believed to be Alexis Wright, for a 10:45 appointment. "Lydia" agreed to engage in unspecified sexual conduct for money with the agent, said the affidavit.
On Feb. 9, 2012, a landlord named Christopher West told police that Wright had leased an office in his professional building at 1 High St., a well-known office landmark in Kennebunk that once housed a local newspaper.
West said he was owner or landlord to several businesses in the building. One of the business owners, a beauty salon, was said to have heard "a lot of moaning and groaning" throughout the day originating from the rental space and had observed multiple motor vehicles and men arriving each day.
West also told the investigator that he had searched on the Internet for Alexis Wright that led him to a Website showing a video of Wright.
On Feb. 14, at 8:45 a.m., Kennebunk police and an MDEA agent executed a search warrant at 8 York St., 1 High St. and 158 Loop Road, the residence of Wright in nearby Wells.
Investigators recovered evidence relating to the crimes of engaging in prostitution, promotion of prostitution, and solicitation of prostitution. Several electronic articles were seized and taken to the Saco Police Department Forensic crime analyst.
The electronic data revealed several electronic ledgers, hours of video recordings, and meticulous records of clients and the acts performed by Wright.
A ledger key was recovered that detailed what kind of act was performed. The numerous acts were video recorded "unbeknownst to the males she was ...with."
The electronic data also revealed several online Maine tax return forms that Wright allegedly submitted through Turbo Tax. A review of the ledger and key revealed the fees for the acts that would have generated about $150,000, according to the affidavit.
The investigation also linked Strong's significant business and personal connection to the alleged acts and established a financial link between Strong and Wright through bank records, postal records and telephone records.
The investigator also observed video footage of Wright and Strong "engaged in multiple... activities together."
Strong was arrested July 10 and taken to Knox County Jail. He was released on $5,000 bail, He faces a trial Sept. 7 in Biddeford District Court. No charges have been filed against Wright, although the case is ongoing, police said.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or at email@example.com.