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Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged in Florida prostitution sting

Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged in Florida prostitution sting

Postby smix » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:04 pm

Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged in Florida prostitution sting
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peop ... SKCN1QB21V
Category: Lifestyle
Published: February 22, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Robert Kraft, owner of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, was charged in Florida with soliciting prostitution after he was captured on video engaging in sex acts with a worker at a massage parlor, police said on Friday.

robert-kraft.jpg

Kraft, 77, a billionaire businessman who built the Patriots into the National Football League’s most dominant franchise, was swept up in a police sting targeting sex-trafficking in day spas and massage parlors in several Florida counties. The operation has led to hundreds being charged. Kraft, who lives in Massachusetts but owns property in Palm Beach, Florida, is accused of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, on two separate occasions to solicit sex. The two charges he faces are misdemeanors. Authorities have video evidence depicting the acts in question after installing hidden cameras inside the spa, police officials said, adding that Kraft had been dropped off by a driver. A spokesman for Kraft and the Patriots, Aaron Salkin, said in a statement, “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.” Kraft could face discipline under the league’s personal conduct policy, which applies to team owners and prohibits “conduct detrimental to the integrity” of the NFL. In 2004, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended six games and fined $500,000 after he pleaded guilty to driving while on drugs. In a statement, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.” Kraft, who made his fortune buying out and building up his father-in-law’s product-packaging business, is worth $6.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Since Kraft bought the Patriots 25 years ago for $172 million, the team has become the most successful franchise in the NFL, appearing in 10 Super Bowls and winning six titles, including Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. The franchise is now worth an estimated $3.7 billion, according to Forbes. Kraft’s wife of many decades, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011 of ovarian cancer. He has not remarried. Kraft is a close friend and supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said told reporters in the Oval Office that he was “very sad” to hear about the charges. “I was very surprised to see it,” the president said. “He’s proclaimed his innocence totally. And - but I’m very surprised to see it.”
DAY SPA TARGETED
No one answered the phone at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on Friday. The spa’s website advertises body treatments, facials and massages, such as the “Tokyo Ultimate 4 Hand.” Standard services generally cost $59 for a half hour and $79 for an hour, police said. The owner of Goodfella’s Pizza across the street, Joseph Bompartito, 33, said he frequently saw young women who worked at the spa walking through the shopping plaza where it is located. “They looked miserable, malnourished, very skinny, very pale with a depressed look on their face,” he said. He also recalled seeing Kraft getting into a chauffeured car at the plaza about two weeks ago, saying he waved to Kraft and the Patriots owner waved back out of the car window. Kraft, widely considered one of the NFL’s most powerful and influential owners, has become a hero to may Bostonians. Early this month hundreds of thousands of people lined the city’s streets to see the owner and his team celebrate their sixth Super Bowl win. Some top Massachusetts officials on Friday voiced deep concern over the charges. Governor Charles Baker “finds these allegations deeply disturbing and condemns all acts of sexual exploitation,” Anisha Chakrabarti, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an email.



Billionaire Kraft, others face formal charges in Florida prostitution probe
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/people- ... SL1N20K15G
Category: Lifestyle
Published: February 25, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Florida prosecutors are preparing to file formal charges against more than two dozen men, including Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots football team, for soliciting prostitution at massage parlors, authorities said on Monday. The investigation by law enforcement officers in three Florida counties into the trafficking of young women to work at day spas and massage parlors has led to hundreds being charged. On Friday, police named Kraft, 77, as a client at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, saying they had video of him engaging in sex acts with a worker there on two occasions and that he would be charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor. He was one of at least two dozen men accused of paying for sex at the spa. Prosecutors from the state attorney’s office in West Palm Beach will file probable cause affidavits in court against Kraft and other men identified by the Jupiter police department on Friday, according to Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office. Arrest warrants for the accused men, including Kraft, are also expected to be announced soon. The state attorney’s West Palm Beach office will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday to discuss the formal filing of charges. Kraft denies engaging in “any illegal activity,” according to Aaron Salkin, a spokesman for Kraft and the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the National Football League’s dominant franchise. The NFL, which said last week it was monitoring the case, released a new statement on Monday saying everyone, including team owners, were bound by the league’s personal conduct policy. “We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation,” the statement said. “We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”



Patriots owner Kraft formally charged in Florida prostitution sting
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peop ... SKCN1QE2BA
Category: Legal
Published: February 25, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Florida prosecutors on Monday filed formal charges against Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots football team, and about two dozen other men for soliciting prostitution at massage parlors, authorities said on Monday. The investigation by law enforcement officers in three Florida counties into the trafficking of young women to work at day spas and massage parlors has led to hundreds being charged. Kraft, 77, and the other defendants charged with first-degree misdemeanors “come from all walks of life,” Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, told reporters. On Friday, police named Kraft as a client at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, saying they had video of him engaging in paid sex acts with a worker there on two occasions. Florida law requires that defendants convicted of those crimes pay a $5,000 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and take classes on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking, Aronberg said. While they also face possible jail time of 60 days to one year, it is not likely to be applied to first-time offenders, he said. Kraft denies engaging in “any illegal activity,” according to Aaron Salkin, a spokesman for Kraft and the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the National Football League’s dominant franchise. Kraft and the other defendants were charged as part of a statewide probe into human trafficking, which Aronberg said was still underway. “The larger picture which we must all confront is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are themselves victims,” he said. The NFL, which said last week it was monitoring the case, released a new statement on Monday saying everyone, including team owners, were bound by the league’s personal conduct policy. “We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation,” the statement said. “We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”



Patriots owner Kraft pleads not guilty in Florida prostitution sting
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-peop ... SKCN1QH2NC
Category: Legal
Published: February 28, 2019

Description: (Reuters) - Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting prostitution in Florida, where police said he was captured on video engaging in sex acts with a worker at a massage parlor, according to court records. The court documents, which were filed on Tuesday in the 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida, showed that Kraft’s lawyers also requested a non-jury trial. The 77-year-old billionaire businessman, whose Super Bowl-winning Patriots have become the National Football League’s most dominant franchise, was swept up in a police sting last week that targeted sex-trafficking in day spas and massage parlors in several Florida counties. The operation has led to hundreds being charged. “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further,” Aaron Salkin, a spokesman for Kraft and the Patriots, said in a statement. Kraft was charged on Feb. 22 with two misdemeanors after police accused him of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, on two separate occasions to solicit sex. Kraft lives in Massachusetts but owns property in Palm Beach, Florida. Authorities acquired video evidence depicting the acts in question after installing hidden cameras inside of the spa, police officials said. Kraft could face discipline under the league’s personal conduct policy, which applies to team owners and prohibits “conduct detrimental to the integrity” of the NFL.
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How Patriots owner Robert Kraft could get off in prostitution case

Postby smix » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:54 am

How Patriots owner Robert Kraft could get off in prostitution case
New York Post

URL; https://nypost.com/2019/02/28/how-patri ... tion-case/
Category: Legal
Published: February 28, 2019

Description: The prostitution case against Patriots owner Robert Kraft linked to a Florida sex-trafficking ring could be a long shot for prosecutors — partly because the women he was caught on video with are the 45-year-old spa manager and a 58-year-old licensed masseuse, according to legal experts. Kraft is charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution after twice visiting Jupiter “rub and tug” massage joint Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Police say the business has ties to an international human-trafficking and prostitution ring, and some of the women at the Asian spa and five other affiliated Florida properties are sex slaves from China. But it appears Kraft was caught on camera getting services from two women who are not victims of human trafficking: the 45-year-old manager of the spa, Lei Wang, and 58-year-old spa employee Shen Mingbi, also believed to be an operator of the business — both licensed masseuses and Florida residents. Kraft allegedly visited Orchids of Asia first on Jan. 19, a day after police — who had been investigating the joint for at least six months — had set up surveillance cameras inside the business, located 17 miles from the 77-year-old billionaire NFL owner’s Palm Beach apartment. According to the affidavit, Kraft paid cash at the front desk and then went to another room, where he took off his clothes. He was accompanied by Wang and Mingbi, who allegedly massaged him lying face-down before turning him over and performing a sex act by hand. Wang, identified by police as the manager of the massage parlor nicknamed “Lulu,” was arrested and faces charges of maintaining a house of ill fame and deriving profits from prostitution. Mingbi, an employee of the spa, has not been arrested or charged and is believed to be cooperating with authorities. Kraft was seen tipping them $100 each before leaving. Kraft left the spa in a white Bentley owned by a friend who had driven him there and had waited outside. A Jupiter police officer then pulled the Bentley over on a traffic stop and asked Kraft — the front-seat passenger — for identification. The billionaire handed over his Massachusetts driver’s license. Legal experts suggest this traffic stop could be illegal because it appears to have been done on the pretext of a traffic violation, but — as the affidavit states — was in fact carried out to identify Kraft, who wasn’t driving the car. Kraft’s second visit was on the following day, Jan. 20, the morning of the AFC Championship Game, and he was allegedly seen on video with Lulu, who massaged him face-down before turning him over and appearing to put her face near his genitals, the affidavit states. He gave her a $100 bill and two other unidentified bills before leaving. Despite the video evidence, which does not have audio, legal experts say the case against Kraft is “flawed.” Through his spokesman, the NFL team owner has denied having solicited prostitutes. Eric Snyder, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s Office and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and now a high-profile trial lawyer, believes there are glaring issues in the case. Snyder — who is not involved in the Florida sex-trafficking case and is not representing Kraft — said, “A number of things jump out for me after reading the affidavit. When the police allege that vulnerable women are effectively being held as sex slaves, I would ask why the police didn’t move faster to get these women out of danger? “Instead the police took several months doing surveillance and, despite already having numerous confessions from customers who were stopped in traffic leaving, plus evidence from inspectors inside the spa, they went to court to obtain the warrant for the video wiretap … The investigators seemed more concerned about obtaining highly embarrassing video footage to shame the customers, rather than acting faster to stop an illegal operation keeping vulnerable women in ‘sexual servitude.’ “Looking at the case against Kraft, there are a lot of big holes. First of all, the women he was with appear to have been operators of the massage parlor. One was arrested and the other one appears to be a cooperating witness, which is why she is named in the affidavits but wasn’t arrested. Prosecutors and police do not leave victims’ name unredacted in the reports they release. “There’s also no proof in the affidavit that he solicited anything from the women. It is possible that this could have been a legal and consensual act between adults and there does not seem to be evidence to prove otherwise. So the facts supporting a misdemeanor charge of solicitation really don’t jump out at you. “Second, the video was probably not legally obtained, the police seemed to ignore the necessity requirement for such an intrusive measure like planting a camera in the premises.” (The law stipulates police should only seek warrants for surveillance cameras if no other evidence is available to support their case, so Kraft’s lawyers could argue the video footage is not legal and an invasion of privacy.) “And third, I doubt the traffic stop was legal either. So the evidence will likely be suppressed [by Kraft’s legal team] if there is ever a trial.” Florida law enforcement officers say they are pursuing similar solicitation charges against more than 100 other men who allegedly paid women — some who may have been trafficked and kept in “sexual servitude” — at the day spas. It is not believed that any of the men arrested so far, including Kraft, knew that some of the women at the spas were victims of sex trafficking. Many of the 26 customers first named by police as having solicited prostitution and recorded on video surveillance were identified during routine traffic stops after leaving the Asian spa, the affidavit states. A spokesperson for Jupiter police could not be reached. The authorities believe Orchids of Asia and four other Florida spas were involved in human trafficking by recruiting women for sexual exploitation. They say many of the women came from China under the guise of legitimate jobs in the spas, were forced to work in the sex trade and confined to the venues, eating and sleeping in the back of the businesses. “These cases aren’t about any one defendant or any group of defendants,” State Attorney Dave Aronberg said. “The larger picture, which we must all confront, is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are victims, often lured into this country with promises of a better life, only to be forced to live and work in a sweatshop or a brothel, subject to force, fraud or coercion.” He noted during a press conference while talking about “modern-day slavery” that of the men charged with soliciting prostitution, “There’s no allegation that any defendant [charged or accused of soliciting prostitution] engaged in human trafficking.” However, after nine months of surveillance by a group of law enforcement agencies, Florida investigators look to have a very strong case against those operating the sex-trafficking ring and the money trail leading back to China. Martin County Sheriff William Snyder has said their surveillance caught armed men driving luxury vehicles moving sex slaves between massage parlors across Florida as part of a “transnational human-trafficking ring.” Sheriff Snyder told The Daily Beast that the Florida massage parlors were part of a $20 million China-based sex-trafficking operation, and they saw several men moving women between massage parlors. A female sex slave told his investigators that “the man who was moving her around had a gun, and indicated that he would use it,” Snyder continued, adding that the men threatened the women not to leave the spas. “We did get a sense that some of these men may have had these women as investments,” Snyder said. Sheriff Snyder stated that the trafficking ring has connections to New York and China, and investigators have traced as much as $20 million to China. “Florida is just the end of the supply chain,” he said. A spokesperson for the Patriots owner has denied “that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.” The spokesperson and an attorney for Kraft declined to comment further to The Post. A representative for Aronberg declined to discuss Kraft’s case with The Post, except to say the investigation into the sex-trafficking and prostitution ring was ongoing.
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