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January 2013 Archives

Attorney Zerillo Interviewed by ABC News Channel 8 On Maine Supreme Court Intervention in the Mark Strong Case

A link to the new video can be found here:
http://www.wmtw.com/news/maine/York-County/Judge-to-decide-future-of-Mark-Strong-trial/-/9284124/18312770/-/13905fg/-/index.htmlFor more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, LLC, visit www.GetZerillo.com or call 207.775.4255.

Attorney John Burke of Zerillo Law Gets Drug Charges Dropped

A quick note of congratulations to Attorney John Burke of Zerillo Law, LLC, who got drug charges dropped last week for a client based on the strength of a pending motion to suppress and strong plea bargaining.  The client was charged with possession of a scheduled drug and refusing to submit to arrest or detention.  Nice work John and congrats to our client, who faced deportation if John didn't succeed.Zerillo Law, LLC's website can be found at www.GetZerillo.com

Tim Zerillo Quoted In Portland Press Herald

From today's Portland Press Herald by Scott Dolan.  This is a good example of how pleading guilty to a crime - while it might seem easy - can have all sorts of unintended consequences.  18 men who pleaded guilty make Kennebunk prostitution witness list

By Scott Dolan sdolan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

ALFRED – If the 18 men who have already pleaded guilty to being clients in the high-profile Kennebunk prostitution case hoped to put the scandal behind them, they may be out of luck.
The lead prosecutor in the case, York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, filed a revised witness list Thursday, just days before the scheduled trial of one of the two major defendants, Mark Strong Sr., that included the names of all 18 men.
The 18 men who pleaded guilty or pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of engaging a prostitute are among the 66 people who have been charged so far as clients of Alexis Wright, a former fitness instructor who authorities allege ran a meticulously documented prostitution business from her Zumba studio in Kennebunk.
The 66 are among the 150 names that Wright allegedly kept in her records, which purportedly included prominent public figures. Affidavits filed by police seeking search warrants earlier in the investigation indicate that Strong may have helped Wright to video record her encounters with her clients.
Strong, a 57-year-old Thomaston businessman, is scheduled to stand trial Tuesday in York County Superior Court on a 59-count indictment of misdemeanor charges including promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy and conspiracy to commit those crimes. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Wright, 30, of Wells, faces 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible.
Her trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in May. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
McGettigan confirmed that she had amended her preliminary witness list, bringing the total number of witnesses she intends to call to 57. She declined to answer other questions about the list or on what she plans for the accused prostitution clients who have not pleaded guilty.
Lilley, reached by telephone Thursday afternoon, said he didn’t have time to talk about the revised witness list.
Timothy Zerillo, a Portland attorney who represents three people charged with engaging a prostitute in connection with the case, said the men who already pleaded guilty could be added to the witness list -- while other accused clients have not -- because of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which gives people the right not to testify on grounds that their testimony could be used against them in a court of law.
“As soon as you plead guilty and your appeal viability has vanished, you can no longer have your 5th Amendment rights,” Zerillo said. “What they really did is speak up and thrust their voice into this case.”
Zerillo said the cases against the three people he represents are still pending and none of them have pleaded guilty.
“You can imagine the embarrassment of having to explain that,” Zerillo asked. “You’ve got to sit there on the stand and say, ‘yes, that’s me in the video.’”
Zerillo said the men who thought they could just plead guilty, pay the fine and get it over with didn’t realize the consequences.
“These guys wanted this to be done and over with, but the reality is, there is fallout. I think the fallout is those subpoenas,” he said.
It’s still unclear whether Strong’s trial will go forward on Tuesday.
Strong is scheduled to appear in court in Portland on Friday morning for two hearings. One, before Justice Nancy Mills, is open to the public, on a motion filed by Lilley seeking to withdraw from the case. Lilley said Tuesday that Strong is “broke” and cannot afford to pay for the legal costs of the trial or the cost of hiring legal experts to adequately defend himself. Mills said she wanted to hear from Strong in person.
The second hearing, to be held behind closed doors, is for Strong and prosecutors to discuss possible plea deals with a judge.For more on Zerillo Law, LLC, got to www.GetZerillo.com.

Cement Truck Accident of 295 in Falmouth Injures Several


Cumberland County, Maine — January 3, 2013
An unknown number of motorists sustained minor injuries in a collision with a cement truck on Interstate 295 in Falmouth Thursday afternoon.According to Maine State Police, a vehicle driven by an unidentified motorist and a cement truck driven by an unidentified motorist collided for unknown reasons around 3:10 p.m. It is not clear who had the right-of-way at the time of the crash.At least one motorist sustained minor injuries. The identities of those involved have not been released.Officials are conducting an ongoing investigation to determine the cause of this incident.For legal help, please contact www.GetZerillo.com
 

Attorney Tim Zerillo Quoted in the Press Herald Concerning the Zumba Prostitution Scandal As Covered in Vanity Fair

By Scott Dolan at the Press Herald and from www.pressherald.com:

Magazine opus: Scandal in a Maine town exposed anew

Illicit sex in a quaint New England town? It's no surprise Vanity Fair was drawn to Kennebunk.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer
The prostitution scandal that drew international attention to Kennebunk now has the town on the pages of Vanity Fair magazine.
The prostitution scandal in Kennebunk is the focus of a feature story in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, going on sale nationally Tuesday. “This article puts the spotlight back on Kennebunk,” said one Portland lawyer.
          

The February edition of the national magazine includes an in-depth story, "Town of Whispers," by contributing editor Bethany McLean, gauging "the damage done" by the scandal, according to an advance version made available by the Condo Nast publishing company.The issue hit newsstands in New York and Los Angeles on Thursday, and will be available nationally and on iPads, Nooks and Kindles on Jan. 8.The article starts with a list of items that police seized in February from the home, office and cars of Alexis Wright: "One bottle of Astroglide. Four bottles of baby oil. One Nikon 35-mm camera, one Sony camcorder ..."It describes Kennebunk as a "lovely, quaint seaside town" and "home to Tom's of Maine, the heart of the land originally settled by the Puritans, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Kennebunkport, where the Bush family has its Walker Point summer compound."The story goes into titillating detail, drawing from blog entries and police records about Wright's alleged sexual activities, and locals who were swept up in the case after being misidentified as suspected prostitution clients of Wright. It cites lawyers, Kennebunk residents and weekly newspaper staffers.The article's publication came one day after a judge scheduled the trial for the other key defendant in the case, Mark Strong Sr. of Thomaston.Strong, 57, who is accused of conspiring with Wright in the prostitution operation, is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 22. The trial is expected to renew media attention to the case as detailed evidence is revealed in court.Strong has pleaded not guilty to 59 misdemeanor charges of promotion of prostitution, violation of privacy and conspiracy to commit those crimes.Wright, 30, of Wells, has pleaded not guilty to 106 counts, including promotion of prostitution, engaging in prostitution, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, tax offenses and receiving welfare benefits when ineligible. Her trial is tentatively scheduled to begin in May.Authorities say Wright, a former Zumba instructor, ran the prostitution operation from her Kennebunk studio.The case has drawn international media coverage, in part, because Wright allegedly kept detailed records of more than 150 clients, including some prominent figures.Since October, at least 66 people have been charged with being prostitution clients of Wright. Fourteen have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of the misdemeanor of engaging a prostitute and been fined.Timothy Zerillo, a Portland-based attorney who is quoted several times in the Vanity Fair article, said he "just got a call one day" from McLean and then spoke to her several more times as she worked on the piece.
Zerillo represents three of the men who have been accused of engaging Wright for prostitution.
He said some of the media attention has subsided since Wright and Strong were indicted and police began naming alleged prostitution clients, but the lull may be misleading.


"I think that, to the extent that Kennebunk is attempting to stay out of the spotlight, this article puts the spotlight back on Kennebunk," Zerillo said. "For anybody whose New Year's resolution was that they never hear about this case again, that will never happen in 2013."
While the audience in Maine and nearby states may have been inundated with minute details of the case, the national and international audiences will start paying attention again when the trials of Strong and Wright begin, Zerillo said."Even though we know all about it, the readers of Vanity Fair will get a really good look at what's going on up here," he said. "I'm guessing that the Vanity Fair type reader might be the type who might vacation in New England."Zerillo said he thinks the piece tells the story from a perspective that will give outsiders a look inside the town and the scandal, in broader strokes than local news outlets may have taken.He described interest in the story as a fire in a fire pit that someone is trying to put out. "You may not see it at the surface, but there are some burning embers below that may flare up at any time," Zerillo said.The Kennebunk town manager, the Maine Office of Tourism and another attorney quoted in the Vanity Fair story did not return phone messages seeking comment Thursday.Kelly McBride, a senior faculty member who specializes in ethics at the Poynter Institute, an organization in Florida that teaches journalism and advises newsrooms around the world, said Kennebunk residents may not see the international appeal of the scandal, but the story is compelling for many reasons.McBride said most news stories about prostitution focus on very low-income people and are scant on titillating details."Prostitution is not really uncommon," she said, "but it's not too often that we get to see it documented" and involving people with middle to high incomes."Because you have local law enforcement that is insisting on prosecuting so many people, you have the story of prostitution laid bare," she said. "Your law enforcement agencies are making the choice to pursue all the charges against all the people. They are opening the story up to everyone."McBride said a magazine like Vanity Fair can tell the story from a different perspective from other news outlets."Vanity Fair has a very distinct journalism function with a very distinct journalism audience," McBride said. "It may very well seem to the people of Kennebunk that this is too much. But it's more for Vanity Fair's audience worldwide."The frame that they put on the story is the juxtaposition of a prostitution ring to a very picturesque, coastal New England town. You can't argue that this frame is inaccurate, but it probably glosses over some of the nuances of the story," she said.McBride said she consulted early on with newsrooms, including the Portland Press Herald's, regarding whether to publish the names of accused prostitution clients, but has not followed the step-by-step developments.She said extensive coverage of the case in the local media makes sense because local authorities have devoted so many resources to investigating and prosecuting the case.For more about Timothy Zerillo or Zerillo Law, LLC, click here, or call 207.775.4255.

Attorney Tim Zerillo Featured in Vanity Fair Article

From Vanity Fair, by Bethany McLean
(these are exerpts from a longer article)

Town of Whispers
Many in the picturesque Maine town of Kennebunk—a short trip from the Bush-family compound—knew that the sweet, friendly Zumba teacher was leading a double life. But then police charged that Alexis Wright’s prostitution sideline included sharing videotapes of her client sessions with her married lover, a part-time P.I. As Kennebunk speculates feverishly and officials release the names of more than 60 suspected clients involved, Bethany McLean gauges the damage done.
One bottle of Astroglide. Four bottles of baby oil. One Nikon 35-mm. camera, one Sony camcorder, one Samsung camcorder, one Sony Handycam, one Pentax camera, one JVC camcorder, a black Fuji camera, two Canon Rebel cameras. Lots of laptops, DVDs, external hard drives, and condoms. A “Domination Fetish” sheet. A white envelope stuffed with $1,000 in cash. Surveillance glasses and black night-vision glasses. Eight Express Mail labels addressed to Strong Investigations. A notebook and a black leather appointment book, both filled with names. Excel spreadsheets containing e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Ledgers of sexual acts, with a monetary value given to each one, and hours of video recordings of many of them. A CD labeled “Yeah.”
These are just some of the items that were taken from the homes, offices, and cars of 30-year-old Alexis Wright, who made part of her living teaching a popular Latin-inspired fitness class called Zumba, and 57-year-old Mark Strong Sr., an insurance salesman. They’re the two figures at the center of a prostitution scandal that has captured the attention of the world. In court documents, the police allege not only that Wright was a prostitute but that she shared her professional encounters with Strong, either by sending him digital tapes of them or live video via Skype. Wright was sexually involved with Strong, who was also a licensed private investigator. Allegedly, she asked him to run her clients’ license‑plate numbers through the state motor-vehicle database, presumably to get their real identities. In the affidavit for Strong’s arrest warrant, the police say that “the numerous sex acts were video recorded unbeknownst to the males she was having sex with.”Both Wright and Strong, who were indicted in October on a combined 165 charges consisting mainly of engaging in prostitution (her), promotion of prostitution (both), violation of privacy (both), and in her case benefits and tax fraud, have pleaded not guilty. In a press release, Strong called the charges “untrue,” and said, “I have made some bad choices but have broken no laws.” (Neither Wright nor Strong would be interviewed for this article.)Wright’s choice of a locale in which to conduct her affairs was either inspired or twisted or both, depending on your point of view: the lovely, quaint seaside town of Kennebunk, Maine, population 10,798, home of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, the heart of the land originally settled by the Puritans, just a hop, skip, and jump from Kennebunkport, where the Bush family has its Walker’s Point summer compound.But what really made the story of the “Zumba Madam” go viral was Wright’s meticulous recordkeeping. Thanks to that, prosecutors can do something they often can’t in this type of case: figure out who the alleged johns were and charge them with crimes, too. The record of who did what has become known simply as “The List”—at one point, it was rumored to include 174 names—and the tantalizing prospect of finding out who is on it caused a feeding frenzy among the national media, from the Today show to Good Morning America to CNN. “The town was literally under siege,” says Laura Dolce, the editor of the local paper, the York County Coast Star. “You couldn’t walk down Main Street without being hounded by media. You couldn’t go into a coffee shop without reporters’ trying to overhear what people were talking about.” Who might be on the list? A member of the Bush family? Someone from the Secret Service? General Petraeus? Dolce says that she was asked about all three. The answers were no, no, and no. But, really, it could have been—and could still be—anyone.
In the area around Kennebunk, it was an open secret long before the scandal broke that Alexis Wright led a double life. “I knew about this story,” one lawyer who is involved tells me. “A client called me. He said, ‘Look, there’s a woman in town who’s a Zumba instructor. She’s a prostitute on the side. I’ve seen her and I’m worried.’ ”
“Why [are you worried]?” the lawyer says he asked.“Because I’ve seen this blog,” the client responded.The blog in question, Alexiswrightzumbateacherpornstar, began with an anonymous entry on August 30, 2010:If anyone knows Alexis Wright from Kennebunk Maine you probably think she’s a sweet, friendly Zumba teacher . . . the funny thing is she’s not! she’s living a double life & is a porn star!!!!! she may be a prostitute for all I know ... all you have to do is google her full name (which is pretty ridiculous that she goes by that) & you’ll see her doing all kinds of nasty sexual acts with married old men, herself & other females.
... 
But the indictments were just a prologue to the real show, which is the revelation of who is on The List. That part has not been much fun for anyone around Kennebunk, be they guilty or innocent, participant or bystander. It is standard practice for the Kennebunk Police Department to release to the media every two weeks the names of those charged with crimes. As Lieutenant Burpee explained to reporters, the department wanted to make sure it was conducting “business as normal” by treating Wright’s alleged clients the same way it treated those accused of other crimes. But the small department couldn’t process all the cases at once, so instead of releasing all the names, they planned to release them in batches—just 21 in the first group, on Friday, October 12. “If you asked the powers that be, you would be told that they’re doing it so it doesn’t bog down the court system,” says Timothy Zerillo, who is a lawyer for three of the men charged. “But the effect was to take the first 21 and shine a spotlight on them.”
... 
Even for those on The List, there are some who argue that their punishment has gone far beyond what the law provides for. The maximum fine is $1,000 but defense lawyers say that $400 to $500 is more likely. “The fine is on a continuum somewhere between a drunk-driving incident and a speeding ticket,” says Zerillo. As of mid-December, more than 60 men had been charged, 10 of whom pleaded guilty. Only a handful are actually from Kennebunk, and they aren’t local celebrities: according to the Portland Press Herald, roughly half are in the home-building business. There have also been an official from the South Portland Church of the Nazarene, several small-business owners, and a former South Portland mayor. And there may be some stereotypical, yet satisfying, hypocrisy: one of the men billed his house-building business as “A Christian Family Owned Company.” The man was also a donor to Protect Marriage Maine, an anti-gay-marriage group.But there’s also been “a whole lot of sad,” as Zerillo puts it. One alleged client resigned from his longtime job as Kennebunk High School’s head hockey coach so the school wouldn’t have to deal with the controversy. By late November, Kennebunk and neighboring Kennebunkport, which were preparing for their annual tree-lighting ceremonies, seemed almost back to normal. Residents wish that were true. When I joked with an employee at Toppings pizzeria that he’d miss the press once we were gone, he said, without a hint of a smile, “I hope I never see another reporter ever again.”But the story isn’t going away anytime soon, thanks to what Zerillo calls “the slow water-torture drip of names.” It’ll be sometime in 2013 before the Kennebunk police have released the entire list. In addition, Strong is scheduled to go to trial in January.  As for Wright’s alleged clients, they’ll probably never be able to rest easy.

 For more on Tim Zerillo and Zerillo Law, LLC, click here.