Regional News

Lead Investigator Back on the Witness Stand in Prostitution Trial

Updated 2 years ago

The lead investigator is going back on the witness stand in the trial of one of the two key figures in a prostitution scandal centered at a Zumba studio in coastal Maine. Lawyers for an insurance agent charged with promoting prostitution will resume their cross-examination Monday of Kennebunk police officer Audra Presby and begin calling additional witnesses. The defense contends Presby retaliated against defendant Mark Strong Sr. by targeting him because he was looking into unprofessional conduct by Kennebunk officers. Videos played for jurors indicate Strong watched paid-sex from his computer 100 miles away in Thomaston and discussed operational details with Zumba instructor Alexis Wright. The 57-year-old Strong acknowledged co-signing for Wright’s studio lease but contends he didn’t profit from her activities. Wright will be tried later.

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University of Maine at Presque Isle Sends Skier to NCAA Championships

Updated 2 years ago

A University of Maine at Presque Isle skier is heading to the NCAA championships. Eirik Fosnaes is a sophomore on the Owls team, which he’ll represent next week in Vermont.Eirik Fohsnis has been skiing since he was a young boy growing up in Norway.”Skiing on a field with my mom everyday when I was like five. I guess that was when I really started to ski.”Eirik is a sophomore first-year skier for the University of Maine at Presque Isle ski team. It’s been a season filled with great finishes, and now, Eirik will be representing the Owls at the NCAA championships. “It was my goal before the season and I am happy to make it.””I mean it’s pretty exciting. That’s our goal every year is to send somebody.””And what makes this trip to the NCAA National Ski Championships even more special, is that Eirik is just the second umpi skiier to go.””Each team can send up to 3 men and 3 women, but of the 13 nordic teams that race in New England that race in our confrerence, only the top 16 women and the top 15 men currently can go.” Eirik landed himself in the 11th spot overall. He’ll be competing against more than 35 other skiers, but he’s got an advantage.”This is definitely a great place, good snow for the year. So it’s a great place to train.””Four out of the six races that we’ve had this year have been done on either artificial snow or altered snow because of a lack of snow down there. So, a lot of the teams we ski against are skiing dry land, running- they’re not really able to ski as frequently and on as good of conditions as we are.”Eirik and Paul leave this weekend.Eirik’s first race is a 10K Classic on Thursday. His second is a 20K Freestyle on Saturday.

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Susan Collins Co-Sponsors Offshore Wind Energy Bill

Updated 2 years ago

Senator Susan Collins is co-sponsoring a bill to boost offshore wind energy generation.Republican Collins joins democratic senator Tom Carper of Delaware in introducing the measure.It would provide financial incentives for investment in offshore wind energy.They say the tax breaks are vital because of the longer lead time involved in permitting and building offshore wind turbines when compared with onshore wind projects.

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Lewiston Man Finds Knife in Walmart Cake

Updated 2 years ago

A father in Lewiston says a cake baked by his local Wal-mart for his son’s birthday had an ingredient he didn’t ask for. A knife was found inside that cake.It has Wal-mart taking action at all of its stores in the US.”It’s not supposed to happen, ya know.””She just yelled ‘there’s a knife in here.’” Four pieces in, Nathan Bibeau claims they found a paring knife inside his son’s cake.”It definitely put a damper with a lot of things, and uh, I’m pretty disappointed with Walmart.”They stopped the party and called Walmart right away.”People started leaving and the family was pretty upset.”Bibeau says he bought the cake at the Walmart in Auburn. We reached out to corporate headquarters regarding the issue. A Wal-mart spokeswoman says the store is taking immediate action to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other customers. She told us they are eliminating the use of that particular knife in bakeries across the country.The spokeswoman went on to say, “This should not have happened. We’re thankful no one was hurt and sincerely apologize to our customers for their experience. We are reaching out to the family to resolve this.”Bibeau says Walmart offered a refund and called to ask how to make this better. He says that’s still not enough. “We’re not going to get that second birthday back ever, ya know.” Bibeau says he has contacted lawyer and is considering legal action against Walmart.”Things happen, of course, but if someone is able to make a mistake like they shouldn’t have hired them.”Bibeau says the incident will not stop him from shopping at Wal-mart.

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Fairfield Police Officer Cleared of Wrongdoing in Accident

Updated 2 years ago

A Fairfield police officer who caused an accident in January while making a U-turn to pursue a speeding car has been cleared of wrongdoing.A Maine state police crash report says Officer William Beaulieu failed to yield the right of way when he made a U-turn on route 201 and was struck by a truck.The attorney general’s office says there’s no citation because the turn was legal and didn’t happen on a curve or the creast of a hill.Beaulieu was injured, his cruiser was totaled.

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Badge and State ID Presented in Strong Trial

Updated 2 years ago

The trial of Mark Strong, Senior of Thomaston continued Friday.He’s accused of helping fitness instructor Alexis Wright run a prostitution operation out of her dance studio in Kennebunk.Friday, on the stand, a police officer said items seized from Wright included a badge and state identification as an assistant private investigator.Strong’s lawyers say Wright studied under Strong to become a private eye, but a state police official says private investigators aren’t allowed to carry badges.Strong’s lawyers say he was targeted because he was looking into claims of unprofessional conduct by Kennebunk police officers.Wright is accused of prostitution. She’ll be tried later.

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Lawmakers Look for Ways to Help Lobster Industry

Updated 2 years ago

Pump more money into marketing lobsters and give tax breaks to encourage more lobster processing.That’s what some state lawmakers propose to do to help the industry. One bill calls for sharply increasing surcharges on lobster fishing and other lobster-related licenses for three years, with the aim of raising about $3 million a year to fund promotion.This year’s promotional budget is $380,000.

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Same-sex Marriage Cases Brought to Supreme Court

Updated 2 years ago

Maine is joining more than a dozen other states in defending gay marriage as the Supreme Court prepares to hear two cases on the issue.The high court will hear arguments next month on a challenge to California’s gay marriage ban and a case involving the federal defense of marriage act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.The Obama administration is also asking the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage and take a skeptical view of similar bans across the country.Twenty-nine states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, while nine states, including Maine, recognize same-sex marriage.

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New York Maine Sentenced to 20 Years in Maine Drug Ring Case

Updated 2 years ago

A New York City man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a crack cocaine and heroin drug ring in Maine.Shareef Nash, 34, pleaded guilty in September to drug conspiracy charges.According to court documents, Nash was the leader of a drug ring that brought cocaine from New York City to Maine in 2009 and 2010, processed it into crack cocaine and sold crack and heroin in Waterville, Portland and Lewiston.Prosecutors say 11 other people in the drug operation have already been sentenced, and two others await sentencing.

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High-Profile Prostitution Trial Continues

Updated 2 years ago

The trial continues for a Thomaston man accused of helping a Zumba instructor run a prostitution business.Mark Strong Senior is charged with promoting prostitution.Alexis Wright is accused of engaging in prostitution out of her dance studio in Kennebunk. She’ll be tried separately.Strong’s lawyers say he didn’t know Wright was involved with prostitution.Prosecutors say Strong took photos from live Skype sessions with Wright while she had sex for money.Investigators say the Skype video was recovered from a device belonging to Wright. A computer expert testified that Strong’s computer a hundred miles away had forty-five pictures from the same video.

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Rangeley Lake Search Suspended Until Spring

Updated 2 years ago

A search has been suspended until spring for three snowmobilers who wardens believe plunged into Rangeley Lake in late December.Wardens found the three snowmobiles, one of them on Wednesday by using robotic tools to scan the bottom of the lake.The search for the missing men will resume after the ice is gone from the lake.

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Lewiston Man Sentenced to 21 Years

Updated 2 years ago

A Lewiston man is going to prison for 21 years for killing a woman and burying her body. Rob Ryder, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in June.Police say Ryder told them he killed Danita Brown, 38, of New Gloucester by hitting her on the head with a clock. Brown’s body was found in the basement of Ryder’s apartment house in July 2011.

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Three People Escape Unharmed from Standish Fire

Updated 2 years ago

Fire officials say three people house sitting at a winterized lakeside cabin in Standish escaped unharmed following a fire that started in a kitchen stove. The fire in the home on Watchic Lake was reported just after 4 p.m. Wednesday. The owner was not in the home at the time. Fire Chief Brent Libby says firefighting crews had difficulty reaching the home because it was about 500 feet from the nearest driveway, the snowstorm and road conditions. He says water also had to be trucked to the location, with hoses being run through a garage and down a hill to reach the scene. Eight nearby departments provided mutual aid.

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Missing Oxford Man Found in Massachusetts

Updated 2 years ago

A Maine man who went missing after crashing his car last weekend was located about 150 miles away in Massachusetts. Police say 24-year-old Gene Stanley Burns Jr. of Oxford was last seen Saturday night walking shortly after the crash. Lt. Michael Ward says police sent him a text message asking his whereabouts, and he responded Tuesday to tell them he was in Abington, Mass., about 20 miles south of Boston, although he was unsure how he got there. Police tell the Sun Journal, his mother drove to Massachusetts to bring Burns home. Ward says police mounted an expensive and time-consuming search for Burns involving more than a dozen law enforcement officials, dogs and a plane, fearing he was hurt. The accident remains under investigation, but Burns could face charges.

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Coast Guard Says New Hampshire Tug Boat Sinking Caused by Human Error

Updated 2 years ago

The U.S. Coast Guard says the sinking of a tugboat working on a new bridge between Portsmouth, N.H., and Kittery, Maine, was due to human error. And the Coast Guard is considering an enforcement action against the operator of the tugboat Benjamin Bailey that sank on Oct. 24, while moored to a barge at the construction site of the Memorial Bridge. No one was injured, but the tug spilled an estimated 225 gallons of diesel fuel into the Piscataqua River. The Coast Guard’s report on the sinking was obtained by Foster’s Daily Democrat. The report says a lack of attention to the mooring position of the boat as the tide dropped was a factor in the sinking. The tug was later raised and taken to shipyard for salvage.

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Jurors to see More Explicit Images During Prostitution Trial

Updated 2 years ago

Weather permitting, jurors in the trial of a Maine man accused of helping a Zumba instructor engage in prostitution will see more sexually explicit images in the high-profile trial. Jurors were to view a couple of videotapes on Thursday, a day after they saw more than two dozen explicit photos and a video that showed the fitness instructor performing a striptease inside her studio. But the court schedule depends on the severity of a winter storm Wednesday night. Mark Strong Sr. faces 13 counts related to promotion of prostitution. Prosecutors said he made screen-grab snapshots from live Skype sessions he had with Alexis Wright while she engaged in sex for money. Both have pleaded not guilty. Wright will be tried later.

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Zumba Prostitution Trial Continues

Updated 2 years ago

Jurors in the Mark Strong Senior prostitution trial viewed sexually explicit photos and video in court on Wednesday.Prosecutors say the images taken during live Skype sessions between Strong and Alexis Wright show money changing hands, and prove Strong knew Wright was involved in prostitution.She’s accused of doing that at her Kennebunk dance studio.Strong’s on trial for promoting prostitution.Strong’s lawyers say he had an affair with Wright and helped her launch her Zumba studio but knew nothing about prostitution taking place.

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Chelsea Man Arrested for Alleged Probation Violations

Updated 2 years ago

A Maine man on the state’s sex offender registry has been arrested for allegedly violating conditions of probation by having prohibited contact with a minor. Bath police say 32-year-old Jeffrey Pope of Chelsea was arrested Monday at a female friend’s apartment. Police tell The Times Record, the friend has two children under the age of 14. Chief Michael Field said there is no evidence of a sex crime, but it was “clear from his probation conditions that he was not allowed to have contact” with anyone under 16. The Maine Sex Offender Registry lists Pope with nine convictions for gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor. Pope is being held without bail at Two Bridges Regional Jail.

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Wilton Police Investigating Battery Thefts

Updated 2 years ago

Wilton police are investigating the thefts of batteries out of vehicles and heavy equipment at two separate sites in town. Chief Heidi Wilcox says batteries were taken from a tractor, a generator and another piece of equipment from the town’s wastewater treatment plant either Monday night or early Tuesday morning. She tells the Sun Journal, that batteries were also taken from two skidders at a logging site the same night. It is unclear whether the thefts are connected, but she says there have been similar thefts recently in Farmington and Jay. Anyone with information about the thefts, or who sees suspicious activity, is asked to contact police.

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Temporary Closure of I-295 Exit in Yarmouth

Updated 2 years ago

Maine motorists will get more details about the planned, temporary closing of an exit ramp along Interstate 295 in southern Maine. The state Department of Transportation on Wednesday will unveil detailed plans for the project on the I-295 Exit 15 in Yarmouth, scheduled to begin in March. Of particular interest to motorists is the temporary closing of the northbound Exit 15, alternative routes, and the installation of temporary traffic lights at the Exit 10 and Exit 17 northbound off-ramps. During a news briefing Wednesday, MaineDOT Project Manager Ernie Martin will also discuss plans for the new I-295 Exit 15 on-ramp and a new park and ride commuter lot in Yarmouth.

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