- Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged in sex sting operation
- Kraft, 77, is among 25 individuals to be charged in probe
- ‘The video that we obtained shows the act,’ says detective
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged as a ‘john’ in Florida on charges of solicitation of prostitution as part of a sex trafficking sting operation, authorities said Friday.
Kraft, whose Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, police said.
The owner’s implication in the sting operation was first reported by Treasure Coast News.
Jupiter police chief Daniel Kerr said in a press conference on Friday morning that Kraft’s two counts stem from two separate visits to the spa “approximately a month ago”. He said the acts were captured by body-worn cameras and additional surveillance the department had been conducting during a months-long investigation.
Police said Kraft’s active warrant is being handled by the state attorney’s office.
A statement from a spokesperson for Kraft obtained by the Guardian said: “We categorically deny that Mr Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
Kraft is one of 25 individuals who will be charged according to a police handout.
Andrew Sharp, the lead detective on the case, could not confirm the dollar amount Kraft spent at the spa pending the release of the probable cause affidavit, but said that an average fee was $59 for a half hour and $79 for an hour.
“Does the video contain Mr Kraft inside receiving the alleged acts? The answer to that is yes,” said Sharp, who added that Kraft was driven to the spa on both occasions but the driver will not be charged at this time.
Kraft, 77, purchased the the Patriots in 1994 for $172m, transforming a perennial also-ran into the NFL’s gold standard, winning a record-tying six Super Bowls.
He is the head of the Kraft Group, a privately held diversified holding company with interests in the professional sports, manufacturing and real estate development industries which generated an estimated $4.6bn in revenue in 2017, according to Forbes.
The league office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kraft, a public ally of Donald Trump who donated $1m to the president’s inaugural celebrations, was one of several major US sports team owners whose names appeared in the Paradise Papers leak through involvement in firms in tax havens.
This is a developing story. More to follow.