Strong, 57, has acknowledged helping the 30-year-old Wright open her dance studio but contends he didn’t profit from prostitution.
That was contradicted Thursday by prosecutors who said Strong received 20 percent of prostitution revenue under an agreement with Wright.
In court, Strong told the judge that he should’ve owned up to his mistakes right away instead of trying to minimize them. “Initially I wondered why this happened to me and why I’m going through this hell, when I should have accepted responsibility and instead focused on making amends for those I hurt,” he said.
His wife, Julie, arm-in-arm with their son, Brad, broke down in tears as she pleaded for leniency, telling the judge that her husband “suffers from an illness that is curable.” She also said their marriage is better now that he’s confronting his illness.
“What started as my worst nightmare I could ever imagine has turned into one of God’s greatest gifts because God has given me a new marriage with a new man, and he is the man I always knew he was,” Julie Strong told the judge. “When I first saw him and met him, I could see a kind and gentle soul. Nobody chooses to do what he does.”
The judge credited law enforcement for being diligent in what was initially investigated as a statewide prostitution ring with potential extortion because the prostitution clients had been videotaped without their knowledge.
In sentencing Strong, Mills took into account that he had no criminal record, was a community leader in Thomaston and had strong family ties, as evidenced by more than a dozen family and friends who sat in the courtroom to show support for Strong.
But she said jail time was warranted because of the duration and extent of the operation in which prosecutors say Wright made more than $150,000 over an 18-month period.
After the hearing, the judge revoked bail and Strong was taken away in handcuffs to begin serving his term in the York County Jail. The judge said Strong would complete his jail term in time to see his son get married.
Wright, who now lives in Wells, is due to stand trial in May. She faces 106 counts including prostitution, privacy violations, tax offenses and welfare fraud.