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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged as a 'john' in human trafficking/prostitution investigation

Posted at 11:46 AM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 16:05:35-05

In his Tuesday news conference about a major human trafficking investigation, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said about 100 men would be arrested.

When asked about prominent people or celebrities, Snyder said, “There will be a newsmaker in this one.”

That newsmaker is Robert Kraft, billionaire businessman and owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

On Friday, Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr confirmed to WPTV that Kraft is one of 25 men being charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution.

He confirmed that there is video evidence of all of the men being charged.

When asked if he was surprised about the arrest of Kraft, Chief Kerr said, "We're as deeply stunned as anyone else."

"Our concern in this investigation centers around victims of human trafficking," said Kerr. He said authorities are working with interpreters to gain information and help those who were trafficked.

Kraft faces two charges because he went to the Orchids of Asia day spa twice, according to The Palm Beach Post, citing Detective Andrew Sharp. Authorities said Kraft was driven to the day spa at Indiantown Road and U.S. 1.

According to a tweet by TMZ, Robert Kraft's spokesman said, “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”

Billionaire and friend of the president

A friend of President Trump and frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago, Kraft was in the area as recently as this past weekend, when he attended a fundraiser at The Breakers for the Everglades Foundation. Entertainment at the event included Jon Bon Jovi and Jimmy Buffet.

Kraft has dated actress Ricki Noel Lander, who is 39 years his junior, since 2012. He was previously married to Myra Hiatt from 1963 until her death in 2011.

Robert Kraft and actress Ricki Noel Lander in 2016
Owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft and actress Ricki Noel Lander attend the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party at The City of West Hollywood Park on February 28, 2016 in West Hollywood, California.

According to the Palm Beach Daily News, Kraft owns a double apartment at 1. N. Breakers Row in Palm Beach, a rental building owned by The Breakers resort.

Kraft, 77, who in addition to the Patriots, owns the New England Revolution Major League Soccer team and other businesses, is number 79 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans, with a net worth of $6.6 billion.

He and his family are active in philanthropic causes and have donated more than $100 million to a variety of organizations.

Kraft is the recipient of the 2019 Genesis Prize from Israel, widely known as the “Jewish Nobel” prize. It is granted each year to a person recognized as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values.

WPTV has reached out to the New England Patriots organization for a statement but has not yet received a response.

Video: Profile of Robert Kraft

Human trafficking investigation

As for the human trafficking case in Martin County, Snyder described the operation as an 8-month, multi-agency investigation. “The tentacles of this go from here to New York to China, in Florida from here to Orange County,” Snyder said.

Snyder stressed the case is bigger than what was disclosed Tuesday.

“I think it’s very safe to say without any hyperbole that this is the tip of the iceberg,” Snyder said.

Five day spas were targeted as a part of the investigation: Cove Day Spa and Therapy Spa in Stuart, Bridge Day Spa and Sequoia Apple Day Spa in Hobe Sound, and Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

According to Snyder, investigators were tipped off through a complaint filed by the Health Department in July 2018.

Three women have been arrested on a variety of charges related to the investigation so far.

Sheriff Snyder said dozens and dozens of arrests are yet to come.

In Indian River County on Thursday, a multi-agency news conference announced the shutting down of three day spas and charges against of scores of customers and the spas’ operators. 165 men were charged with solicitation of prostitution.