New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be charged in connection with a prostitution sting in Florida, Boston 25 News has learned.
The charge follows a series of raids involving at least eight massage parlors on the east coast of Florida.
On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of two women on prostitution, racketeering and money laundering charges and said nearly 200 others would be arrested on solicitation charges.
Thursday, police in Vero Beach announced the arrest of eight other suspects linked to three massage parlors, plus nearly 200 men who solicited prostitution.
Police confirmed Friday that Kraft was involved in the bust.
"Can you confirm it's Robert Kraft... the owner of the New England Patriots?"
Police: "Yes sir"
"What is he being charged with?"
Police: "He's being charged with the same offenses as the others.. soliciting another to commit prostitution."
Police say they have filed a complaint against Kraft and say that Kraft has been charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution. They also say he was caught on video evidence inside one of the spas, and investigators say the 77-year-old had a driver take him to the spa on two difference occasions last month.
"He was a regular at this spa," police said.
The spa is located about 20 miles north of a luxury home Kraft owns on the grounds of the exclusive Breakers Resort in Palm Beach.
The Orchids of Asia Day Spa is one of 10 massage parlors recently shut down amid a wide-spreading human trafficking crackdown across south Florida.
"All Hands In" spokesperson Barbara Anderson said sex trafficking is a bigger problem in the United States than many people are aware of.
"There's always a bigger reason behind it," Anderson said. "Whether, you know, poverty, abuse in the home, mental illness, but no girl ever grows up wanting to be a prostitute."
The charge is a misdemeanor and police say the state attorney in Palm Beach County is handling the case.
A spokesperson for Robert Kraft released the following statement:
"We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."
The NFL released a statement on Robert Kraft Friday afternoon, saying "The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments."
Kraft lives in Brookline, Mass. and also owns a home in Palm Beach, Florida.
Authorities have not yet disclosed the dates they say Kraft visited the spa, but they say they obtained a warrant to conduct surveillance during a five-day period that began on January 18, a timeframe that includes the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
According to court documents, two women ran the spa, and police say the women who worked for them were forced to have as many as eight clients.
Kraft will have a warrant issued for his arrest on Monday., authorities say.
Valentin Rodriguez, a Harvard undergrad and a criminal defense attorney in West Palm Beach, said if the state's attorney decides to prosecute, Kraft may have to show up to be booked and fingerprinted.
"In my practice for the last 25 years, I have never had one client charged with this offense ever feel good about it," Rodriguez said.
However, Rodriguez said that, because solicitation is a misdemeanor charge, Kraft may never appear in court.
"Our laws allow you to take a plea in absentia for that type of offense, and the local rules don’t require the presence of the actual defendant if its waved by the attorney," Rodriguez said.
Robert Kraft has a long history in Foxborough and New England starting back in 1965 when he graduated from Harvard Business School. Kraft took ownership of the Patriots in 1994 after being a season ticket owner for 23 years. The day he bought the team he said the objective was to bring a championship to New England.
In the five years before he bought the team, the Pats had won fewer than 25 percent of their games. One year after buying the team, Kraft became one of the founders of Major League Soccer when he established the New England Revolution.
In 1998, the Kraft Group was founded, including paper and packaging, sports and entertainment, construction and real estate and philanthropy. According to their website, they now employ nearly 10,000 people worldwide.
In February 2002, the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. Later that year, Gillette Stadium opened to replace the old Foxborough stadium. Gillette was privately funded by Robert Kraft and remains one of the few sports stadiums in the country that didn't rely on public money.
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Cox Media Group