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February 22, 2019

Patriots owner Robert Kraft to be charged in Florida prostitution bust

Authorities say day spas are connected to international sex trafficking investigation

New England Patriots owner and billionaire Robert Kraft has been named among more than 150 people allegedly busted in a Florida prostitution and sex trafficking ring. 

Authorities in Jupiter, Palm Beach County, held a press conference Friday morning addressing the growing speculation that Kraft, 77, solicited prostitution at a day spa called Orchids of Asia. The business has been in operation since 2012. 

Police said Kraft was spotted at the day spa on two separate occasions some time in the last month. There is allegedly video evidence of Kraft receiving sexual services at the spa. Kraft owns a property in Palm Beach. 

Kraft will be charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution, police said. He has a warrant out for his arrest in Florida. The offense carries a jail sentence of up to 60 days for a first offense. 

Kraft is reportedly denying the allegations. 

Investigators say they have evidence the Treasure Coast spas are tied to an international sex trafficking ring, with links to New York and China. A trail of money laundering also was allegedly discovered in the probe. More than $2 million in assets will be seized by officials as the spas are shut down. 

Kraft recently celebrated his sixth Super Bowl championship as owner of the New England Patriots. He is the CEO of Kraft Group, a holding company that includes assets in paper and packaging, real estate, sports and entertainment and a private equity portfolio. 

The wider, months-long investigation of the Florida spa network now encompasses nearly 200 people with warrants out for their arrest in Indian River County, Martin County, Orange County and Palm Beach County. 

Authorities at Friday's press conference said no government officials were among those implicated, but it is possible at least one other prominent name may surface. 

Investigators in Martin County said the sex workers, allegedly brought to the U.S. under false pretenses for work at day spas, have been subjected to sexual servitude, denied access to transportation and moved from location to location. 

Officials said Wednesday that advocacy groups and interpreters are working with the victims in order to get support for them. 

Kraft last month joined Philadelphia native Meek Mill and several others to launch The Reform Alliance, an organization dedicated to criminal justice reform. 

Check back for updates on this developing story.