FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Florida prosecutors have offered a plea deal to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men charged with paying for illicit sex at a massage parlor.
The Palm Beach State Attorney's Office confirmed Tuesday it has offered Kraft and 24 other men charged with soliciting prostitution the standard diversion program offered to first-time offenders. The men must concede they would be found guilty, perform 100 hours community service, attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and pay $5,000 per count, spokesman Mike Edmondon said. Kraft was charged with two counts last month.
In other words, the deal that's on the table would lead to charges being dropped on several conditions. One of those being that Kraft admit he would have been found guilty if the case went to trial.
Legal analyst, Peter Elikann, brings up some possible downsides for Kraft, including potential sanctions from the NFL.
“If they have enough evidence, then he may want to take something here where yes he gets a bunch of punishments and doesn’t deny that he did it and gets off without a conviction," Elikann said.
But even without a conviction, Elikann pointed out that the deal likely won't clear Kraft in the court of public opinion.
"In the public eye they would still think he was responsible for this offense," he added.
Anti-human trafficking activists are urging that the NFL conduct its own investigation and reevaluate Kraft's role with the most successful franchise in league history.
Massachusetts Senator Markey also recently announced his decision to donate campaign contributions from Kraft to charity.
About 300 men have been charged and 10 massage parlors closed in multiple counties between Palm Beach and Orlando as part of a crackdown on illicit massage parlors and human trafficking. Several operators and employees have also been charged.
Police say Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, twice in late January just before he flew to Kansas City to see the Patriots defeat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
According to police records, the 77-year-old Kraft was chauffeured to the massage parlor in a 2014 white Bentley on the evening of Jan. 19, where officers say they secretly videotaped him engaging in a sex act and then handing over an undetermined amount of cash.
Investigators said Kraft returned 17 hours later, arriving at the upper-middle class shopping center where the spa was located in a chauffeured 2015 blue Bentley, the documents said. Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was videotaped engaging in sex acts before paying with a $100 bill and another bill, police said. Hours later, he was in Kansas City for the game. His team then won the Super Bowl in Atlanta, the Patriots' sixth NFL championship under his ownership.
Kraft has denied wrongdoing. The NFL has not taken any action against him but has said its personal conduct policy "applies equally to everyone in the NFL" and it will handle "this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy." Kraft's wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.
Authorities investigated the parlors for months, gathering evidence through observation, interviews with men stopped leaving the spas, trash bin searches and surveillance of their owners. Judges then issued warrants allowing them to secretly install cameras inside the spas to record what transpired.
Many of the alleged operators and workers were born in China and Chinese translators are being used to interview women connected with the businesses, according to court documents. The documents said many of the workers were forced to live at the spas and were not allowed to leave without an escort.
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