The Maine Supreme Court put jury selection in a high-profile prostitution trial on hold on Thursday.It was in response to a challenge by Maine Today Media to open jury selection to the public, instead of doing it behind closed doors.Mark Strong, 57, of Thomaston is charged with nearly sixty misdemeanors, including conspiring with a dance instructor to use her studio in Kennebunk as a front for prostitution. The Supreme Court ruled late Thursday that jury selection can resume but must be open to the public from here on out.
A free, public forum sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission will help Maine consumers to spot scams and avoid fraud. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud says the event will be held Thursday morning in Auburn. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills and staff from the state Consumer Protection Department and other experts will also attend. Michaud, a Maine Democrat, announced the FTC forum after meeting with a Maine victim of a Jamaican phone scam last year. Michaud says the lengths criminals will go to steal from consumers is unconscionable. The forum is titled Being Scam Smart: Protecting Your Money and Identity from Fraud. Topics include Medicare fraud, identity theft and telemarketing, charities and fundraising, credit and loan offers, sweepstakes and lotteries, club membership offers and robocalls.
Maine realtors say both sales and median prices of single family homes rose in December, reflecting national trends.The Maine real estate information system says sales were up almost 12%, and the median price rose more than 6% to $170,000.Nationally, sales rose 11.5% in December, while median prices were up just under 11%.
A judge says jury selection will continue in the trial of a business partner of a Zumba instructor accused of using her dance studio in Kennebunk as a front for prostitution.With about a third of potential jurors dismissed, a judge hoped to finish selecting a panel and begin opening statements Wednesday in the trial of Mark Strong Sr., 57, of Thomaston, but the judge said in the late afternoon that jury selection would resume on Thursday.Strong faces 59 misdemeanor counts including conspiring with fitness instructor Alexis Wright. Both Strong and Wright have pleaded not guilty.
A major ratings service has downgraded Maine’s bond ratings.Fitch has lowered Maine’s $472 million in general obligation bonds from AA+ to AA.$1.4 billion of the Maine Municipal Bond Banks’s general resolution bonds have been lowered from AA- to A+.Fitch says the state’s persistent budget gaps are the reason for the downgrades.A lowered bond rating can mean having to pay higher interest rates.
Portland’s planning board has approved the construction of two new hotels in the city. The hotels approved Tuesday will add more than 230 rooms and two restaurants to the Old Port area over the next few years. A 131-room Courtyard by Marriott with 14 penthouse apartments was approved near the Portland Fish Pier. The $17.5 million project is expected to start next month and open in June 2014. The board also approved a 110-room hotel and restaurant to be located in the former Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram building across from City Hall. The $8 million project is expected to get under way this summer and be finished by mid-2014.
Jury selection has ended its first day in the trial of a Thomaston man accused of being party to a prostitution operation in Kennebubnk.Mark Strong Senior is accused of conspiring with fitness instructor Alexis Wright.She’s accused of running a prostitution operation out of her Zumba studio and will be tried separately.Pre-trial publicity is a concern. Lawyers say it could take a couple days to pick a jury.
Attorney General Janet Mills says people claiming to represent Medicare are calling and asking people for their Medicare numbers in order to issue new cards.The callers also ask for the name of your bank, as well as your account and bank routing numbers. Anyone who has provided this information is advised to monitor their Medicare statements closely over the next year.Mills says never give out personal information over the phone. If you think your account information has been compromised, call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline 626-8849.
There is a record number of women in the new Congress, 81 in the House, and 20 in the Senate. Three of the female senators were on the CBS Morning Show on Tuesday, including Senator Susan Collins. One of the popular topics was that women don’t seem to be running for office. Here’s what Senator Collins thinks about that: “Women tend to think that they’re not quite ready and I always try to encourage women to take the risk, to roll the dice.” “You said if women were in charge we would have a budget deal by now. So with a record 20 women in the senate, is this going to get better?” “I certainly hope so. I actually was serious when I made that comment. I honestly believe that if you put the 20 women into a room and locked us up and threw in provisions occasionally that we would come out with a budget.”Collins says all of the women Senators get together about once a month for dinner.
A man from Maine played a historic role in Monday’s inauguration.Richard Blanco of Bethel delivered the inaugural poem, paying tribute to the American experience.He was born in Spain and emigrated to the US with his parents.At age 44, he is the youngest ever inaugural poet.
Relatives of a Westbrook woman found dead in Portland last week are pleading with the public to come forward with any information.Margarita Fisenko Scott, 29, was found dead on Thursday.Family members say they hadn’t seen her since early November.”He opened the car in the backseat she was found,” says cousin of the victim, Alla Sherstyukov. “Her body was just kind of tipped over. Her head was on her knees.”Police ruled the death a homicide, and have not released the cause of death.Margarita Fisenko Scott was described by her large extended family as trusting and naÃ¯ve. Her cousins gathered soon after her discovery begging for answers as to who killed her, and why?”I’ve been trying to think about what she went through, what happened with her, what her last minutes of being alive,” said Denis Stikin. “It just makes me sick to my stomach just to even think about what happened.”Sherstyukov says her cousin was close to her family. She kept in touch with many of them on a regular basis. They knew something was wrong when she was no where to be found during the holidays. Alla said her cousin talked about leaving her husband.”In November she said, they must have had marriage problems. All she said she thinks she temporarily didn’t want to be with Carey her husband, wanted to take a little break. She took some clothes. She took the car.”Relatives say they were surprised since the couple seemed so happy.The victim’s husband, Carey Scott, told News 8 during a phone interview today that he hadn’t seen his wife since November 10th.Scott said he was interviewed for three hours at Portland Headquarters on Sunday. Scott, who was distraught over the phone, said he loved his wife and he had nothing to do with her death. Meanwhile family members are begging for answers, pleading with the public to come forward if they have any information.”She had so many friends, so many acquaintances. Somebody must have seen her. Somebody must have talked to her. Somebody must know something out there and we want closure to this.”
Lawmakers get to work this week on Governor LePage’s supplemental budget.It’s designed to make up $90 million in cost overruns in the state’s Medicaid and MaineCare program.The budget also addresses a $35.5 million revenue shortfall.Appropriations committee hearings start on Wednesday and are expected to wrap up Monday.
Firefighters had to rescue a 60-year-old woman who became stuck waist deep in the mud while digging for clams in Wells. Capt. Jeff Cullen says firefighters responded to the mud flats off Drake’s Island just after noon on Monday, and about a half hour before low tide. The firefighters were able to walk out to her and use a 20-foot roof ladder to help get her to safety. The woman’s name was not released, but Cullen says she was a visitor to the area. He tells The Portland Press Herald, she was checked out by rescue workers but did not require medical attention.
A Maine man of Ethiopian descent who worked at a Walmart store claims in a lawsuit the company discriminated against him because of his race and retaliated when he complained. Abdulaziz Omar of Lisbon filed his complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court. He alleges his supervisor at a Lewiston Walmart in 2009 treated him less favorably than workers who were not black. Omar also alleges when he went over his supervisor’s head to complain, he was ignored. He alleges when he was injured on the job, he was told not to seek medical treatment because it would cost the company money. He said he was fired in 2010 for an error he did not make. A company legal representative tells the Sun Journal, that Wal-Mart denies discriminating or retaliating against Omar.
A Maine man authorities describe as a key figure in a drug distribution ring faces life in prison at sentencing. Shareef Nash of Buxton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland. Authorities say the 34-year-old Nash was a top dealer at the Maine end of the drug ring, taking shipments of mostly cocaine that women in the network smuggled inside their bodies on planes and cars from New York. The drugs were distributed in packages to lower-level dealers in the Portland area. The Portland Press Herald, reports that Nash pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, cocaine and heroin, aiding and abetting. He faces 10 years to life in prison and fines up to $10 million.
New England’s shrimp-fishing season begins Wednesday, but it will be a short one.This year’s quota is 1.4 million pounds, about a quarter of last year’s catch.Net fishermen are restricted to fishing two days a week.A much smaller season for trap fishermen begins in about two weeks.The shorter season and lower catch limits come after scientists warned the Gulf of Maine shrimp population is in poor shape.Maine fishermen catch about 90% of the harvest, New Hampshire and Massachusetts fishermen account for the rest.
Tough day for Patriots fans.Many Mainers made their way to Foxborough for Sunday night’s game, which ended in disappointment, the Ravens winning 28-13. For one group from Livermore, it’s a family affair that spans three generations. Patriots tickets are always the hottest ticket in town, especially Sunday, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.That makes this family trip to Foxborough that much more exciting for the Bolduc family, as three generations made their way from Livermore to Foxborough.”I still can’t believe I am going,” said Issac Bolduc before the game. “I was sitting at home, and said I want to go an AFC Championship game. So this is what is going to happen. We are going to do it.”It is the ultimate family road trip for Alfred Bolduc, his son Issac, and his granddaughter Brooke.All three are all lifelong Patriots fans, but only Issac had been to a game in person. He landed tickets late last week, much to the surprise of his daughter.”I found out on Thursday night when they came in, and he is like ‘I have got something in the email for you,’ and he pulls it out, and I lost it. I shrieked.”Even though he lived many years down south, Alfred continued to show his allegiance to the Patriots, and now he finally gets to be around fellow Patriots fans. “I have been in Virginia for 20 years, so I have been fighting with all those Redskins fans, Dallas fans for all these years, and I always have been a Patriots fan. So this one here, I am not going to give it up. I am going to do it this year.”Issac says he is excited to be going with his dad and daughter, though they have all watched many games together in their living room, he says he has been telling them it is nothing like the atmosphere of being there live. “It is a good time. The sights, the sounds, the feeling when the crowd roars, it almost shakes the whole stadium. It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”Bltimore is back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 2001, when the Ravens won it.
AARP Maine is looking for a new president.It’s a volunteer position and will cover all fifty-three offices statewide and the more than 230 thousand members.To apply, you must have previous volunteer experience with AARP or other organizations.Applications will be accepted until the end of Feburary.For more information or a job description call 776-6304 or log on to aarp.org/me.
Jury selection is set to start on Tuesday in the case of man accused of being a business partner in a prostitution ring in Kennebunk.Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston is charged with fifty-nine misdemeanors.Authorities say he helped a Zumba instructor use her dance studio as a front for prostitution.There are 250 potential jurors. The selection process could take several days.
The death of a woman found dead in a car in Portland last week has been ruled a homicide.The ruling follows an autopsy on the body of 29-year-old Margarita Fisenko Scott of Westbrook.Portland police are asking for the public’s help. Investigators have not released the cause of death.The body was discovered around around 3:30 Thursday afternoon in a vehicle parked at the Motel Six on Riverside Street.