New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be charged for soliciting prostitution in Florida, police said Friday morning.
Kraft, 77, was identified in a months-long investigation of human trafficking and prostitution at day spas in the Palm Beach area, according to multiple media outlets.
Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr confirmed during a press conference held in Jupiter, Florida that Kraft was one of the hundreds of people named in the massive prostitution bust that multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in — including Homeland Security, the IRS, the Jupiter Police Department and the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office. Twenty-five people will reportedly be charged in the case.
An arrest warrant will be issued by the state's attorney's office for Kraft, as he lives outside the state of Florida. Kraft will be charged with a misdemeanor and will have to appear in court.
Officials said that there is video evidence from body cam video and surveillance of Kraft committing a sex act on at least two separate occasions roughly "a month ago." He was allegedly driven to the spa by a chauffeur.
Officials said the women accused of running the sex trafficking ring operated out of local spas which touted themselves as massage parlors. The investigation, which took roughly eight months, ultimately ended with more than 100 men suspected of being "Johns."
The investigation shut down spas that ran from Palm Beach County to Orange County. Police said that women lived at the spas and worked as prostitutes.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey told TCPalm.com that many came from China on temporary work visas and were indebted to the brokers who helped them reach the U.S. — but believed legitimate jobs awaited them.
“Some of them are trying to make a better life for themselves,” he said. “These people truly are stuck.”
The women were "shamed, intimidated and taught not to speak to law enforcement or immigration officials," according to a report from TCPalm.com.
Kraft, who is the founder, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, bought the New England Patriots in 1994. Since then, the franchise has appeared in 10 and won six Super Bowls as well as 10 AFC championships. The team celebrated its sixth Super Bowl win earlier this month at Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams.0comments
Kraft married Myra Hiatt Kraft in 1963. Myra died in 2011 at the age of 68. The couple had four sons. Kraft has denied paternity of the child of his girlfriend, Ricki Lander, who gave birth in the fall of 2017.
"Last fall, Ricki Noel Lander became the proud mother of a beautiful, healthy baby. While Robert Kraft is not the biological father, he is thrilled with Ricki's blessing of having a healthy child. With respect to her family's privacy, we will not be commenting any further," a spokesperson for Kraft said in 2018.