WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Monday his offices is charging New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 24 other men with soliciting another to commit prostitution in relation to filing packets received Friday from the Jupiter Police Department.
The charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $5,000 civil penalty, and a mandatory 100 hours of community service and educational program on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
None of the men has been charged with human trafficking, "but that could change," said Aronberg.
Jupiter police reports indicate Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter on Jan. 19 and 20. On the 19th, the transaction lasted approximately forty minutes and on the 20th, about 14 minutes.
In both instances, video surveillance captured a woman performing a sex act on Kraft and shows him paying in cash.
Video from the 19th showed him arriving as a passenger in a white Bentley. After he left the spa, the vehicle was stopped and Kraft was positively identified. On the 20th, he came and went as a passenger in a blue Bentley.
Some time after his visit on Jan. 20, Kraft traveled to the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City where his Patriots beat the Chiefs later that day.
Aronberg said he is also expecting to receive filing packets for the two women who are accused of operating the spas, a second degree felony, and will charge them as recommended.
Aronberg said local residents facing the solicitation charges will get a summons in the mail, while those who are from out of the area, including Kraft, will have a capias, or low-level warrant issued. They can appear or have an attorney reach out to satisfy the warrant.
When asked about the surveillance video from the massage parlor, Aronberg said it would be important in court.
At a 2 p.m. news conference, Aronberg also reiterated what he said this morning on MSNBC about the case. Rumors of the arrest of "bigger fish" in the case "would be news to me," Aronberg said, referring to a Tweet on Friday by ESPN's Adam Schefter that said "Robert Kraft is not the biggest name involved."
"This is not about lonely old men and victimless crimes, this is about forcing women into our country for forced labor and sex," Aronberg said, noting that the focus of the investigation is human trafficking, not just the men who allegedly received illicit services.
Aronberg said he wants the conversation to be broader than about one defendant, the conversation should be about forced labor and forced sexual conduct.
He called human trafficking “modern day slavery” and encourages people that if they “see something, say something.”
— Merris Badcock (@MerrisBadcock) February 25, 2019
The multi-agency investigations resulted in the arrests of several “madams” accused of trafficking women inside massage parlors, from Jupiter to Vero Beach.
According to law enforcement in Martin County, Indian River County and Jupiter, hundreds of men have been implicated. That includes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who is accused of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa off U.S. 1 in Jupiter two separate times over the course of the investigation.
On Friday, Jupiter police told reporters an arrest warrant would be issued for Kraft since he is not a full-time Florida resident. However, by Monday, the State Attorney's Office confirmed Kraft is a Florida resident, and had issued his attorney a notice to appear.
Contact 5 learned Kraft, and 24 others listed as ‘johns’ in the Jupiter sex ring investigation, may get off without having to take a mug shot. Kraft may not have to step foot inside a Palm Beach County courtroom, if his attorney is allowed to appear on his behalf.
A receptionist confirmed late Monday that Florida defense attorney Jack Goldberger is representing Kraft.
“These are misdemeanor crimes,” Detective Andrew Sharp told reporters on Friday. “If you live and reside in Palm Beach County you will receive a notice in the mail saying you have a summons to appear in court. “If you are outside of Palm Beach County, if you are out of state, then you will have a warrant for your arrest here in Florida.”
In Palm Beach County, officials said this is standard practice for crimes like this. However, Martin county arrested their ‘johns’ and booked them, posting each mug shot online.
Indian River County agencies posted photos of their ‘johns’ even before they were arrested. The reason? To hold the end users of these sex trafficking rings accountable.
Kraft’s team has denied his involvement in the prostitution sting. Police say they have video evidence of Kraft receiving sex acts for money. It’s unclear how Kraft’s team plans to dispute the video evidence.
Watch Friday's Jupiter Police news conference below:
- Law firm files petition to bar release of day spa videos
- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces charges
- NFL issues statement on Robert Kraft
- Could NFL reprimand Patriots owner Robert Kraft?
- How Jupiter detectives gathered evidence in prostitution sting
- Mugshots unlikely for 25 ‘Johns’ picked up in Jupiter sex-trafficking bust
- Billionaire equity firm owner John Childs wanted on sting
- Boyfriend of LPGA star arrested
- Martin County sheriff says 2 women at center of human trafficking
- 3rd suspect arrested in human trafficking/prostitution case
- 165 men charged in Indian River Co. bust
- 'RubMaps.com' helps customers find illicit massage parlors
- Recognizing the signs of human trafficking