A Maine judge is convening lawyers for two defendants in a prostitution scandal at a Zumba studio to determine how the case will proceed following a lengthy delay. Jury selection has been on hold for more than three weeks in the trial of Mark Strong Sr. after a judge dismissed 46 counts alleging violation of privacy of prostitution clients. The married insurance business owner still faces 13 other counts dealing with promotion of prostitution. Both Strong and Alexis Wright, who ran a fitness studio in Kennebunk, have pleaded not guilty. She’ll be tried later. Among the matters to be taken up Tuesday is a motion by Strong’s attorney to lift a gag order on attorneys. The earliest that jury selection could resume is Wednesday.
Maine lawmakers could vote this week on a $153 million supplemental budget.It’s in response to $88 million in extra Medicaid costs and $35 million in shortfalls because of a lagging economy.It would balance the budget year ending in June.The appropriations committee endorsed it last week. Now it’s up to the House and Senate to put it to a vote.Passing it would let lawmakers turn their attention to the new two-year budget, which begins on July 1st.The governor has proposed a $6.3 billion plan.
A second person has been charged in connection with what authorities call one of the biggest cocaine busts in Maine in recent memory. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency says 23-year-old Vanbopha “Stephanie” Nhoth was charged Thursday with cocaine possession in connection with the seizure of more than eight pounds of the drug after a traffic stop in Portland on Tuesday. Nhoth is the live-in girlfriend of Adam White, who was arrested Tuesday on trafficking charges after police seized cocaine from his car and his house in Falmouth. They also found a gun in the car. Police say the pure, uncut cocaine could be worth up to $374,000. Nhoth was a passenger in the car but was not initially charged. White was originally pulled over for speeding in a school zone.
A Maine company that wants to operate ferry service between Portland and Nova Scotia says it has an agreement to lease a new $165 million vessel and could start service this summer if it is awarded a contract. Quest Navigation Inc. of Eliot is one of two companies proposing to operate the service between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Quest officials tell The Portland Press Herald, the vessel is 531-feet long, has 162 cabins, two restaurants and capacity for more than 1,200 passengers. The other company, Baltimore-based Maritime Applied Physics Corp., is an engineering firm that specializes in designing electro-mechanical systems for harsh environments. The Nova Scotia government is expected to decide this month whether to partner with one of the companies or issue another request for bids.
Organizers say the ice fishing will go on at this weekend’s derby but Sebago Lake is not an option. The Cumberland County Ice Fishing Derby will happen as planned on Saturday and Sunday at other lakes and ponds in the region. Organizers say the recent storm has left conditions too variable on Sebago Lake, making the ice unsafe. They say the big lake has almost no ice and there are numerous pressure ridges along Jordan Bay with open water on either side. All prize pools from the Sebago Lake Derby have been shifted to the Cumberland County Derby.
Maine police have arrested a man wanted by authorities in Colorado on charges of sexual exploitation of a child. Police in Lisbon acting on information from the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force arrested 48-year-old Scott Helms on a fugitive from justice charge this week. Police say Helms is wanted by the Gilpin, Colo., County Sheriff’s Office on three felony counts of Internet sexual exploitation of a child and two felony counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child. Helms appeared Wednesday in district court in Lewiston and was held on $10,000 cash bail. Police say Helms has lived in Lisbon for several years. They did not disclose the exact nature of the alleged offenses. It was not clear if he had hired a lawyer.
Experts say unusually high phosphorous levels in Lake Auburn caused a fish-killing algae bloom last year, but what caused phosphorous levels to spike remains under investigation. A team of water quality experts and engineers hired by the Lake Auburn Water Protection Commission to investigate the fish kill team gave an initial report Wednesday night at Lewiston City Hall. The Sun Journal, reports that engineers say the high phosphorus levels could have been caused by runoff from the lake’s feeder streams and ponds or by a new species of alga, or a combination of the two. They also are trying to determine whether the bloom was an isolated event or a troubling trend, and how to stop it happening again. The bloom last September killed an estimated 200 trout.
The Livermore select board has voted to accept a nearly $41,000 settlement from an insurance company representing a Jay logger who harvested trees on about 10 acres of town land without permission. The board voted Tuesday to unanimously accept the payment, which represents the value of the trees removed from Memorial Forest last year, the cost of a property line survey and the cost of the timber valuation. Town Administrative Assistant Kurt Schaub tells the Sun Journal, no decision has been made on what will be done with the money. Officials say John Korhonen cut down trees on his own land then inadvertently harvested about 1,250 trees on town land. Schaub says it is a logger’s responsibility to know where property lines are.
A Westbrook man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for a series of robberies last year. Paul Sans was also sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland to three years of probation and was ordered to pay more than $19,000 in restitution. He pleaded guilty in October to four counts of bank robbery and one count of interference with commerce by robbery. Prosecutors say the 30-year-old Sans robbed a Portland convenience store on Jan. 11, 2012, then hit Portland credit unions on Jan. 12 and 19, a Windham credit union on Feb. 7 and a Lewiston bank on Feb. 15. He and his getaway driver were caught fleeing the Lewiston robbery. That driver, Maria Mattson, was sentenced to more than four years in prison in December.
Maine’s highest court is preparing to weigh in on whether prostitution johns who were recorded without their knowledge have a right to privacy. A trial judge dismissed 46 invasion of privacy counts against Mark Strong Sr., who’s accused of viewing sex videos featuring men who were unaware that they were being recorded with a woman who’s accused of using her Zumba studio as a front for prostitution. Prosecutors are seeking to reinstate the charges. Arguments were scheduled for Wednesday in Portland. Strong also faces 13 other counts that deal with promotion of prostitution. He and dance instructor Alexis Wright have both pleaded not guilty.
A pest might be making its way back to Maine. The spruce budworm devastated Maine’s forests three decades ago. Spraying was done over East Millinocket in the early 80’s, which successfully rid Maine of the bugs, but experts say they might soon descend upon our state again. There’s a budworm outbreak in some parts of Canada, and there have been signs of the bugs in Maine.
A fire chief in Maine says three people have been hospitalized and one person is unaccounted for after an apparent home explosion. Chief Steve Hinds in Bath says the duplex was on fire when crews arrived on the scene on Bluff Road at about 5 a.m. Tuesday. Neighbors say they heard an explosion. He tells WMTW-TV, he suspects the fire was started by a propane or natural gas explosion. He says there is a quarter-mile debris field. An investigator with the state Fire Marshal’s office is on the way to the scene. No names were immediately released.
Bowdoin College wants to buy a former assisted living home in Brunswick and turn it into student housing, but some town officials are concerned about the impact it would have on the neighborhood. The college signed a purchase and sales agreement in November, but can’t turn the building into a dorm unless the town approves a requested zoning change. Town councilors voted 8-1 last week to send the request to the Planning Board. The Times Record, reports that Councilor Sarah Brayman worried about the college expanding beyond its traditional footprint. Councilor John Perreault worried the town was showing favoritism to the college that might not be extended to a private citizen.
A free dinner in Bar Harbor Tuesday will also raise some money for people in need.St. Saviour’s Parish is hosting the Community Valentine Dinner.All donations benefit the MDI Fire Fund, which supports victims of fires on Mount Desert Island.All are welcome.The event runs from 5:00 to 6:30, Tuesday night, in the Parish Hall of St. Savior’s Parish at 41 Mount Desert Street.
A memorial service was held in Vassalboro Monday for a 23 year veteran of the Maine Warden Service.Major Gregg Sanborn, 47, died last week after a battle with a rare type of lymphoma.Sanborn, a native of Fryeburg, was second in command at the Warden Service.He is survived by his wife, Deborah and son David, both of Sidney.
He’s not living large.That’s what a spokeswoman for Governor LePage says in response to a newspaper story that says taxpapers paid for $32,000 worth of food last year for the Blaine House kitchen.Blaine House Director Lynn Harvey says the governor hosts dinners for many people, including military families and potential state investors.Last week, a Blaine House tea party was held for up to eighty people who help military families.We’re told private groups sometimes help pay the way.
Leading Democratic lawmakers expect the governor’s supplemental budget plan to be voted on in the House and Senate this week.It’s to patch a $35 million revenue hole.It also seeks to make up for nearly $90 million in cost overruns in Maine’s Medicaid program, or Mainecare. The supplemental budget would help the state pay its bills through June.The govenor has also pitched a $6.3 billion budget for the next two years.
Karen Mills of Maine is leaving her post as head of the Small Business Administration.She’s from Brunswick and has served as SBA Chief since 2009.The SBA arranges loans and other assistance to small businesses. Mills is the latest executive branch official to leave the White House as the president settles into his second term.President Obama credited mills on Monday with helping businesses recover from the recession.
Human remains have been found off Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport. The police chief says they were found around 5:00 Sunday afternoon on Vaughn Island. He says he doesn’t know if they belong to either of two shipbuilding students who disappeared in the area in December.Zachary Wells and Prescott Wright were students at the Landing School of Boating in Arundel.They were last seen leaving a party.Their clothing was found on a local island a few days later.The remains have been taken to the medical examiner. It may be several days until they are identified.
A Portland woman has been airlifted to a Boston hospital after suffering severe burns in a fire at her home. Firefighters responded to the home on Burnside Avenue at about noon on Sunday and found the woman already outside. She was the only one at home. She was taken to a city hospital before being flown to Boston. Her name was not immediately made public. Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria says firefighters were hampered because the nearest hydrant was covered by snow. He says the department had additional staff on because of the weekend storm, which helped. The home suffered extensive damage. The cause remains under investigation.