East Coast Zumba Teacher Sentenced to 10 Months Prison

ALFRED, Maine (AP) — A Zumba fitness instructor who pleaded guilty to using her Maine studio as a front for prostitution is going to jail, bringing to an end a scandal featuring sex videos, adultery and exhibitionism.  

Alexis Wright was sentenced Friday under a plea agreement to 10 months in jail for 20 counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception. Afterward, she was led from the courtroom by a court officer. The 30-year-old Wright was accused of conspiring with an insurance business owner to run a prostitution business in which she videotaped clients without their knowledge and kept detailed records over an 18-month period indicating she made $150,000 tax-free while collecting welfare. Under the agreement, prosecutors will seek restitution of $57,280. Continue Reading

President Asks Congress to Hold Line on Student Loans

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is urging Congress to prevent an increase in student loan rates.  

Obama says rising college costs hold back — quote — “our entire middle class.” Obama appeared with college students Friday in the Rose Garden. It’s the beginning of a public campaign by the president to temporarily extend current student loan rates — or find a compromise to avoid a rate increase on July 1. Obama says the country cannot saddle young people with more debt just as they start out in life. Continue Reading

Midwest Expecting More Damaging Storms Today

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Forecasters are warning that parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri are likely to see more powerful storms today, with large hail and tornadoes possible.  

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center says the areas at greatest risk include Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Joplin, Mo., where a tornado killed at least 158 people in 2011. Flooding also is a concern in parts of Missouri, Iowa and Illinois through Sunday. The region was strafed by storms again yesterday, with up to a dozen tornadoes touching down in mostly rural parts of Arkansas, as well as one in Illinois and three in Oklahoma. National Weather Service teams are surveying the aftermath in Arkansas but say it could take days to confirm whether tornadoes struck. Continue Reading

Other Parts of Iowa Also Under Mother Nature’s Thumb

NEW HARTFORD, Iowa (AP) — Emergency management officials have told residents of New Hartford to be prepared to evacuate as water begins to run over the top of a gravel road that serves as a levee protecting the northeast Iowa community. Ridge Avenue holds back Beaver Creek on the west side of town. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management spokesman John Benson says there’s a considerable amount of water pushing on the road and some has begun flowing over the top. The creek was at 13.1 feet Thursday afternoon and is expected to rise to 13.4 later in the day before subsiding. The 500 residents of New Hartford have been told to prepare to evacuate if the levee breaks. Continue Reading

IL House Pension-Repair Plan Rejected by Senate

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Senate has rejected a plan pushed by the House to solve the state’s pension crisis.  

The proposal pushed by House Speaker Michael Madigan failed Thursday evening, with 16 voting “yes” and 42 voting “no.” The vote left lawmakers without a solution to the pension issue with only one day left before the Legislature’s scheduled adjournment. The House-backed plan would cut benefits and increase contributions for employees to help cut a $97 billion debt in five pension systems.

But Senate Democrats prefer a plan by Senate President John Cullerton which offers employees a choice of benefits to forgo. Continue Reading

Gov. Branstad Appoints Pair During Recess

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has made two board appointments during the legislative recess, avoiding the Senate confirmation process until next year.  

Spokesman Tim Albrecht says Thursday that Branstad appointed Nick Wagner to the Iowa Utilities Board and Tom Rielly to the Iowa Transportation Commission after the Legislature adjourned last week. Branstad withdrew these nominations during the legislative session. Albrecht says the administration feared the appointments would have lost Senate support amid unrelated controversy over the governor’s Board of Regents nominees. Because the Legislature is not in session, Wagner and Rielly can serve until next year, when Branstad will again submit their nominations for confirmation. Continue Reading

Michigan woman, 33, killed in Syria fight, family says

A 33-year-old Michigan woman was killed in Syria while fighting for opposition forces, relatives said. Nicole Lynn Mansfield, of Flint, and two other were fighters for a group opposed to Syria’s government and were killed during a confrontation in Idlib, according to a pro-Syrian government news agency. The circumstances of the deaths could not immediately be confirmed. Mansfield’s cousin, David Speelman, of Flint, told The Associated Press that FBI agents visited family members Thursday and informed them of Mansfield’s death. FBI Detroit spokesman Simon Shaykhet told the AP he can’t comment on the matter. Continue Reading

Zumba instructor gets 10 months for prostitution

A high-profile prostitution scandal featuring sex videos, adultery, exhibitionism and more than 100 clients drew to a close Friday when a Zumba fitness instructor who turned her studio into a brothel was sentenced to 10 months in jail. Alexis Wright was sentenced under a plea agreement to 20 counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception. Justice Nancy Mills extended wishes for success after the sentence was imposed. “Based on what you have to say and what I know about you from your attorney, I know that you will succeed when you’re released and that you will prevail. I wish you success,” Mills said. Continue Reading

Zumba instructer sentenced to 10 months jail for prostitution scandal

A high-profile prostitution scandal featuring sex videos, adultery, exhibitionism and more than 100 clients drew to a close Friday when a Zumba fitness instructor who turned her studio into a brothel was sentenced to 10 months in jail. Alexis Wright was sentenced under a plea agreement to 20 counts including prostitution, conspiracy, tax evasion and theft by deception. Justice Nancy Mills extended wishes for success after the sentence was imposed. “Based on what you have to say and what I know about you from your attorney, I know that you will succeed when you’re released and that you will prevail. I wish you success,” Mills said. Continue Reading