A Maine Zumba instructor who turned her fitness studio into the headquarters of a prostitution ring pleaded guilty to 20 misdemeanor charges on Friday.
Alexis Wright, 30, of Kennebunk, Maine, has entered into a plea agreement with local authorities, avoiding a trial that would have surely exposed the sex videos, pornography and lurid texts that formed the basis of the prosecution’s case, the Associated Press reports.
Wright is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31, and she’ll face up to 10 months in prison if convicted.
According to the allegations, Wright conspired with Mark Strong Sr. to operate a brothel out of her Kennebunk fitness studio. Initially, she faced 106 criminal counts, including prostitution, tax evasion, violation of privacy and welfare fraud, AP reports.
The Portland Press Herald reports that Wright’s plea deal will reduce three tax-related felony charges to misdemeanors.
According to AP, a penitent Wright quietly answered “guilty” to the 20 remaining criminal charges on Friday, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, tax evasion, conspiracy and theft by deception.
"We're very satisfied with it. It's an appropriate outcome, given the gravity of her actions," Assistant Attorney General Darcy Mitchell said after the hearing.
Prosecutors alleged that Wright and Strong, her insurance agent, ran a prostitution ring in which they kept detailed ledgers of all business transactions. Wright is accused of making $150,000 over the 18 months in which the ring was active. She also used a hidden camera to record illicit sex acts without the consent of her clients, AP reports.
Strong, a 57-year-old from Thomaston, Maine, was convicted on 13 criminal counts and sentenced to 20 days in prison. Initially, he had faced 59 counts, AP reports. Both guilty parties had previously pled not guilty at a January court hearing, ABC News reports.
The Zumba sex scandal received national attention this past summer after local police raided Wright’s Kennebunk dance studio, confiscating extensive records and hundreds of hours of illicit footage. According to reports, Wright’s prostitution ring consisted of at least 150 clients, many of whom were prominent members of the small Maine town’s community.
According to ABC News, Bee Nguyen, the studio’s landlord, alerted authorities after hearing strange noises and observing men come and go from Wright’s office.
So far, a former mayor, a minister, a firefighter and lawyer are among those who have been charged, AP reports. In all, 66 people have been charged as clients, with that number expected to grow if the state can gather enough evidence, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan told AP.