Wednesday, March 12, 2014
ALFRED -- The first four men to plead guilty to engaging former Zumba instructor and accused prostitute Alexis Wright for sex each had his figurative day in court without actually having to appear.
The lawyers for the four men -- Ryan P. Saucier, 21, of 45 Forest Ave., South Portland; Benjamin Bouma, 40, of Peoria, Ariz.; Michael Sherwood, 53, of 1011 Washington St., Portland; and Bradford Siegel, 56, of 14 Millridge Road, Cumberland -- filed appearances in York County Superior Court for their clients and entered guilty pleas on their behalf, court records show.
Guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Saucier and Bouma before Judge Roland A. Cole on Nov. 7. Guilty pleas were entered on behalf of Sherwood and Siegel before Judge G. Arthur Brennan on Nov. 9.
Saucier paid fines and fees totaling $970. Bouma paid $490; Sherwood, $970; and Siegel, $610.
Kennebunk police have accused Wright of running a one-woman brothel. So far, including the four who pleaded guilty, at least 58 men have been charged with engaging a prostitute, a misdemeanor. Their names have been released in several batches by Kennebunk police in their crime blotter.
The case has garnered international attention because of Wright's extensive client list, which reportedly included more than 150 names, including those of public figures.
Unlike the other men who have been charged in the investigation, the four who pleaded guilty never were issued a summons to appear. The men knew the charges were pending and acted before police issued a criminal complaint. Each of their court files contains a one-page "information," documenting the charge that would have been brought against them if a criminal complaint had been issued.
Bouma's attorney, Stephen Schwartz, said people frequently plead guilty in Maine by this method.
"It happens from time to time that people plead guilty pursuant to an information, which is a pre-criminal complaint," Schwartz said. "People sometimes like to put things behind them as quickly as possible, and that's whether they have a valid defense or not. The goal is to get things done as quickly as possible."
Schwartz said he has consulted with nine people facing prosecution in connection with the case and has been retained by five.
He said he expects others will try to move their cases along more quickly as well, whether by trial or having it disposed of before trial.
York County Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan, who is heading the prosecution, was at the district attorney's office in the same building as York County Superior Court on Wednesday, but she declined to comment on the cases.
Lawyers for Saucier, Sherwood and Siegel declined to comment Wednesday.
The first 21 men charged in the prostitution case are expected to appear Dec. 5 in Biddeford District Court to face one charge each of engaging a prostitute.
One of them, Donald Hill, 52, of Old Orchard Beach, entered a not guilty plea on Oct. 11 and has requested the case be transferred to Superior Court for a jury trial, according to records at Bidderford District Court.