JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces misdemeanor charges of soliciting a prostitute after he was twice videotaped in a sex act at a Florida massage parlor, police said Friday in a case that could get him in trouble with the NFL.
The 77-year-old Kraft denied any wrongdoing.
He was not immediately arrested. Jupiter police said a warrant will be issued and his attorneys will be notified. They said details about the charges against the owner of the Super Bowl champion team will not be released until next week.
The charge comes amid a crackdown on sex trafficking from Palm Beach to Orlando in which police planted cameras in massage parlors.
Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days as a result of a six-month investigation, and more are expected. Ten spas have been closed, and several people have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges.
Jupiter police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was paying for sex inside a shopping-center massage parlor, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. “We are as equally stunned as everyone else,” Kerr said.
Most people charged for the first time with soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion program, said attorney David Weinstein, a former prosecutor. Kraft would probably have to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a course on the harmful effects of prostitution and sex trafficking, he said.
The NFL did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.
“Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline,” the policy says.
The Patriots won the Super Bowl this month over the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth NFL championship in the past 18 seasons, making them the most successful team in pro sports during that span. Before the Super Bowl, several retired NFL players appeared in a public service announcement decrying sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Atlanta, the host city.
Kraft lives in Massachusetts and has a home in the Palm Beach area. Though he is a Democrat, he is friendly with President Donald Trump and a frequent guest at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. Kraft’s wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress Ricki Noel Lander since 2012.
“Well it’s very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He’s proclaimed his innocence, totally,” Trump said at the White House on Friday. “But I’m very surprised to see it.”
In a statement, Kraft’s representatives said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.”
The spa Kraft allegedly visited is in a busy, upper-middle-class shopping center with neighbors that include a dentist, a real estate office, surf and bike shops and a Publix supermarket.
Vero Beach police Chief David Currey, whose agency has been involved in the sex-trafficking investigation, told reporters earlier this week that the prostitutes are victims who have been trapped into the trade.
“These girls are there all day long, into the evening. They can’t leave and they are performing sex acts,” Currey said, according to TCPalm. “Some of them may tell us they’re OK, but they’re not.”
Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company, bought the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million to keep the team from moving to St. Louis. He hired Bill Belichick as coach in 2000, and the team later drafted quarterback Tom Brady, launching its nearly two decades of success.
In 2007, the Patriots got in trouble for filming other teams’ signals. The NFL fined the team $250,000 and Belichick $500,000. In 2014, Brady was accused of delating game footballs to gain a better grip. He served a four-game suspension, and the Patriots were fined $1 million.
Kraft was not implicated in either scandal.
Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale. AP sports writer Kyle Hightower in Boston and reporter Kevin Frekking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
ATLANTA (NEXSTAR) —
Tom Brady has not been sacked in the post-season. Nexstar Nation Big Game Bound Digital Reporter Ashley Bridges talked with NFL Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams about what that could mean for Sunday’s big game.
“I think that’s a key factor,” Williams replied. “His offensive line has done a phenomenal job. They’ve got take on Brady with a four man rush instead of a Blitz and the Rams are able to do that. To get him on the ground that’s key.:
Bridges pointed out that Brady has only been blitzed two percent of the time. Williams had a quick response.
“You don’t blitz him,” he said matter of factly. “I remember them asking him ‘why do you want to play until you’re 45,’ and I remember a great answer: ‘why would I quit when I know all the answers to the test?’ Any blitz you come up with he’s going to read it which then puts the opposing backs on one-on-one coverage.”
As far as his pick for Sunday goes, Williams says that’s easy: He played for the Rams.
ATLANTA (NEXSTAR) — It takes a lot of food to fuel 200, 300, even 400 pounds of football player. And, let’s go ahead and get it out of the way that Tony Gonzalez’s vegan diet and Tom Brady’s kale quinoa are definitely the exception. So what foods are NFL player’s comforts to cook up?
Rams Cornerback Sam Shields had two years out of the NFL and is back to the big game — but in those two years he had a lot of mama’s home cooking — his favorite?
“Shepard’s Pie,” Shields declared.
That dish is hearty and homecooked, kind of like Patriots Offensive Lineman Ted Karras’s favorites that his dad made when he was growing up. Karras said his go-tos were pasta, potatoes, and chicken.
But homecooking doesn’t always have to come from home: former Georgia Tech now Patriots offensive guard Shaq Mason was ready to be “back back back at Miss Mary Mac Mac Mac’s.” So, what would he tell his teammates to order?
“The six fried wings, the mac and cheese, and the rice and gravy,” Mason said.
The Rams’ Andrew Whitworth’s wife still makes his Cajun favorites. She says he loves her sausage jambalaya and she still orders the spicy sausage from Louisiana.
But for some, after the season, it’s all about the sweets and the sleep! Patriots wide receiver Robert Woods says he can’t wait for the candy and to catch a nap. — like Patriot’s wide receiver Robert Woods:
By the way, that amazing video of “Mary Mac’s Tea Room” is from Ron Clark Academy, an incredibly successful, unique school in Atlanta. Look for another #BigGameBound digital extra with the amazing students you saw there and a cameo by Ludacris.
ATLANTA (NEXSTAR) — Is there any game — a physical game, I’m not talking trivia or scrabble — where a lay person can win against an NFL player?
The Patriots are busy getting ready for the big game, but first a little a little fun and games during Opening Night!
I challenged several Patriots players to a thumb war. I kept losing even when former Clemson star and Patriots tight end Dwayne Allen tried to coach me up a bit.
Then, in the final seconds as the media day clock ticked…a dive …not between the pylons but between the tripods and a grab for Gronk: a challenge for a final epic losing battle of thumb war with those hands — but he turns the tables, Rock Paper Scissors — but what does shoot mean?
I went with rock–Gronk, scissors!
“Rock paper scissors, shoot, oh you cheated!” he cried, walking away from the podium after an hour long interview session with the media.
Who won? What ARE the rules? They’re clearly less clearly defined than in the league.
Did I cheat, I don’t know! Use our #BigGameBound to post YOUR video of how the game should be played — tomorrow we might share a few of them in our Big Game Bound live show.
The Big Game might be six days away, but that didn’t stop a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback from sharing his seemingly unpopular opinion about Tom Brady.
Chris Simms, who now works as a broadcaster for NBC Sports after spending nine years in the NFL, told “Big Game Bound’s” Anthony Calhoun that he doesn’t believe Brady is the greatest quarterback in league history.
“Brady, what he’s doing at this age, is incredible,” said Simms. “[But] I will not say that Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time. I will not.”
“[Brady] is certainly top five, but I’m not going to make it just about rings though. That’s not fair. I think if Aaron Rodgers was on the New England Patriots, [he and Brady] would have the same amount of rings too.”
Simms, who is the son of former New York Giants quarterback and Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms, said refusing to concede that Brady is the best quarterback ever has earned him hatred in New England.
“You gonna tell me my dad’s better than Dan Marino cause he has one more ring?,” Simms asked on Big Game Bound’s live show from Atlanta. “No, that’s a lie. You’re gonna tell me Eli Manning is better than Brett Favre cause he has one more ring? That’s not true.”
WPRI/WNAC – The New England Patriots are set to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL remaining undefeated at home this season, while the Chargers are undefeated away from the city of Los Angeles this year. Something’s got to give. Tom Brady has never lost to Philip Rivers, but the Patriots know this Chargers team brings a toughness to Foxboro they have not seen in the divisional round in many years.
Ruthie Polinsky and analyst Andy Gresh lay out what the Patriots need to do in order to reach the Super Bowl and earn their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
WPRI/WNAC – The New England Patriots earned a ninth straight playoff bye after 38-3 win over the New York Jets. The Patriots have struggled on the road this year, going 3-5 away from Gillette Stadium, while they are the only NFL team to remain undefeated on their home turf.
With the number two seed in the AFC, the Patriots will play at least a playoff game at home, with potentially having to travel to Kansas City for the AFC Championship game.
Tom Brady looked back to his normal self throwing for four touchdowns in the Patriots week seventeen win over the Jets.
WPRI/WNAC – After a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills at home, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots clinched the AFC East for the tenth straight year. The Patriots also had reason to cheer for the team that beat them in the Super Bowl less than a year ago when the Eagles beat the Houston Texans, moving the Patriots back into the number two seed.
Now, all the Patriots have to do to secure a first round bye and a playoff game in Foxboro is to beat the 4-11 New York Jets on Sunday at home.
WPRI/WNAC – The New England Patriots are in unfamiliar territory, facing a playoff game on wild card weekend for the first time in nine seasons. The Patriots come into week 16 of the regular season as the number 3-seed in the AFC playoff picture trailing the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. But the AFC Champion Patriots can slide back into a bye with some help. If the Texans lose either of their remaining two games and the Patriots win at home against the Bills and Jets, they will secure a bye for a ninth straight season
The Patriots are coming off two tough losses- a last second “Miami Miracle” against the Dolphins and a 17-10 letdown against the Steelers. The Patriots lost back-to-back games in December for the first time since 2002. The good news for the Patriots is they have tremendous success against Buffalo. Tom Brady is 29-3 all-time against the Bills.
WPRI/WNAC – If anyone knows how to turn the page after a loss like the one they suffered in Miami, it’s the New England Patriots. They’re putting all of their focus towards Pittsburgh as they head into the final three games of the regular season. The Patriots dominate the Steelers rivalry, winning the last five meetings between the two teams. Tom Brady is 11-2 against the Steelers in his career.
Thanks to the Houston Texans also losing in week fourteen, the Patriots still hang on to the number two seed in the AFC. If the Patriots are able to win out, they will likely clinch a first round bye. New England has never reached the Big Game with out a first round bye.