Reporting Michael Rosenfield
ALFRED, MAINE (CBS) – A 30-year-old woman convicted of running a prostitution business out of her Zumba fitness studio in Kennebunk, Maine was sentenced to 10 months in prison on Friday.
Alexis Wright entered court today alongside her husband and said she was “nervous” as she arrived.
Facing a judge moments before her sentence was read, Wright accepted responsibility for the situation.
“I’m a person who knows the difference between right and wrong,” a tearful Wright told the judge. “And for those reasons I chose to take the time in jail to take responsibility for my actions.”
The case made national headlines. Wright’s detailed records, which included the names on her client list, added to the frenzy.
She reached a deal in March, pleading guilty to 20 counts of prostitution, tax evasion and welfare fraud.
Wright told the judge on Friday she had been manipulated into starting the illicit enterprise by businessman Mark Strong, whom she met while working as an exotic dancer.
“No person should ever be forced into something like this,” Wright told the court.
Wright claimed to the court that getting busted by police made her happy because it meant she was free.
“My story might sound crazy but you can’t argue with the truth at the end of the day,” said Wright.
Wright will serve 10 months in jail per the plea agreement reached.
Strong was sentenced to 20 days in jail.
The judge said Wright’s sentence was stiffer because she faced much more serious charges of tax evasion and welfare fraud, pocketing thousands of dollars in state and federal money she was not entitled to.
She will have to pay close to $60,000 in restitution.
“I would spend my days watching the clock and telling myself that as soon as it’s three I’m on the mommy clock,” Wright said in court. “It’s that time of day that I switch over from being this person I had absolutely no desire to be to being who I truly am on the inside.”
Wright says the high-profile case was extremely difficult for her husband and son.
“I struggled to show my face in the grocery store for fear of running into people who may or may not confront me,” Wright told the court. “I have missed some of my son’s school functions to protect him from this media frenzy that’s taken on a whole life of its own.”
After the hearing, Wright was brought to the York County Jail to start serving her time.
She said she would like to be an advocate for women after she is released.
“I’m optimistic that something good will come out of this,” said Wright. “If I can help even one woman get through something like this it will be worth it.”