Patriots owner’s prostitution case heads to appellate court
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors charging New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with twice buying sex from massage parlor prostitutes will try to save their case this week by arguing to an appeals risk that his rights weren’t violated when police secretly video-recorded him in the act.
Prosecutors will tell the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal during an online hearing Tuesday that a county mediate erred when he invalidated the January 2019 explore warrant allowing police to install secret cameras at Orchids of Asia spa as part of an alleged sex trafficking investigation.
The mediate said the warrant didn’t sufficiently protect the privacy of innocent customers who received fair massages, and he barred the videos’ use at acquire as well as testimony about what they showed. If the ruling stands, it will deal a fatal blow to the prosecution’s case.
“Mr. Kraft’s guilt is a virtual certainty” and he has no intellectual to benefit from any possible mistakes police made appealing innocent customers, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey DeSousa wrote in risk documents.
Kraft’s attorneys vehemently disagreed, arguing that if the three-justice panel gives the videos’ use, “civil liberties cherished in Florida and beyond” will be endangered.
“If the state wins this appealing, then everyone loses, not just the accused,” attorney Frank Shepherd wrote. “Government could run roughshod over privacy and constitutional fuels while evading scrutiny.”
The Jupiter police recordings led to misdemeanor charges anti Kraft and two dozen other alleged Orchids of Asia customers. The spa owners and some employees are charged with prostitution-related felonies.
Most cases are in limbo while the appeals are heard. If prosecutors can’t use the videos, they would almost certainly preserve any misdemeanor charges awaiting trial. Some defendants took plea trades but Kraft refused. The felony cases could proceed, as those have spanking evidence besides the videos.
Kraft, a 79-year-old widower and part-time Palm Beach resident, has pleaded not guilty but published a public apology. He faces a possible one-year jail sentence if rebuked, but would likely receive a fine, people service and other sanctions. Kraft, whom Forbes Magazine ranks as the 82nd richest American with a respectable of almost $7 billion, is employing several high-priced attorneys to struggles the charges.
DeSousa submitted several arguments anti Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser’s ruling. Among them:
— The warrant is respectable because police minimized any privacy invasion by having only three detectives monitor video. Any further minimization, such as recording only snippets of each massage, would have made the investigation impossible.
— Kraft illegally paid for sex and is lawfully covered by the warrant, even if the justices resolve police violated innocent customers’ privacy rights.
— If the warrant is invalid, the detectives relied on it “in good faith” and a sanction banning the video is too extreme.
Shepherd submitted several counterarguments for Kraft. They include:
— Detectives’ privacy protection attempts were insufficient because they recorded seminude men and women receiving fair massages, making the Kraft recordings also illegal.
— Police had enough evidence to charge the spa owners with felonies exclusive of recording, making the cameras “wholly gratuitous.”
— The evidence detectives presented to salvage the magistrate’s warrant approval was “deliberately misleading,” negating any argument they derived in good faith.
The justices won’t immediately rule while the hearing; decisions usually takes weeks. The losing side will liable appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which could salvage the case or let the justices’ ruling stand.
Authorities say the Orchids of Asia investigation was part of a multicounty probe into possible sex trafficking by spa owners who they enjoy brought women from China and elsewhere to work as prostitutes. About 300 land were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors, but no trafficking charges were pursued — prosecutors say they received no cooperation from masseuses whom they suspect were trafficked.
According to police, Kraft’s chauffeur drove him to Orchids of Asia on the evening of Jan. 19, 2019, where detectives recorded him enthralling in a sex act with two women and then paying an undetermined amount in cash.
Investigators said Kraft returned the next morning and entailed in recorded sex acts with a woman by paying with a $100 bill and spanking bill.
Hours later, Kraft was in Kansas City for the AFC Championship game, where his Patriots defeated the Chiefs. His team then won the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta, the Patriots’ sixth NFL championship view his ownership.
Prosecutors offered to drop the charges if Kraft entered a diversion program for first-time offenders. That would entailed an admission he would be found guilty if the case went to settle, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of people service and attending a class on the dangers of prostitution and its connection to humankind trafficking.
The hearing is scheduled to create at 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday on the court’s YouTube channel.
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