Robert Kraft Offered Plea Deal In Prostitution Case
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) 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 and attend a class on prostitution's dangers and
how it perpetuates human trafficking, spokesman Mike Edmondon said.
They must also pay a court fee of $5,000 per count. Kraft, 77, was
charged with two counts last month.
In return, the charges of misdemeanor soliciting prostitution would
be dropped. Edmondson said none have accepted so far. By accepting,
the men might also avoid having to appear in court, Edmondson said.
That would be negotiated.
Kraft's attorney Jack Goldberger did not immediately return a call
seeking comment, and Patriots spokesman Stacey James refused
to comment. If Kraft refuses the deal, he would be put on trial and,
if found guilty, face a possible year in jail, although that would
be unlikely. He has pleaded not guilty.
Golfer Tiger Woods entered a similar diversion program in 2017 when
he was charged in Palm Beach County with driving under the
influence. He appeared in court to accept the deal.
Kraft's deal offer was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Kraft is one of about 300 men charged in multiple counties between
Palm Beach and Orlando as part of a crackdown on illicit massage
parlors and human trafficking. Ten parlors have been closed and
employees have also been charged. Many of the women are originally
from China, were forced to live in the spas and were not allowed to
leave without an escort, according to investigators.
The owner of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, the Jupiter, Florida,
parlor Kraft is accused of visiting, is charged with 29 felony
prostitution and related charges. Authorities investigated the 10
parlors for months, gathering evidence through interviews with men
stopped leaving the spas, trash bin searches and surveillance of
the spa owners. Judges then issued warrants allowing them to
secretly install cameras inside the spas to record what transpired.
Police said they have a video of Hua Zhang's employees performing
various sex acts with two dozen customers. Zhang, 58, has pleaded
Sheriff William Snyder of neighboring Martin County spearheaded the
massage parlor crackdown. He said in a recent interview with The
Associated Press the traditional route of only charging parlor
owners and their employees while ignoring their customers doesn't
work. He said the only way massage parlor prostitution and its
related human trafficking will be curtailed is to charge the men,
''As long as there is a demand, there will be a supply - and I was
stunned by the amount of demand,'' he said.
Police say Kraft visited Orchids of Asia 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, 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.
The NFL has not taken any action against Kraft 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.
Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company,
bought the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million to keep the team from
moving to St. Louis. He hired Bill Belichick as coach in 2000, and
the team later drafted quarterback Tom Brady, launching its nearly
two decades of success.