New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution in human trafficking probe

  • The owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots is accused of soliciting prostitution at a spa in Florida.
  • Surveillance video showed him receiving sexual services, police say.
  • The 77-year-old billionaire is among more than two dozen people accused in a police sting as part of a human trafficking probe, authorities say.
  • Kraft is a friend of President Donald Trump, who last month touted his administration's efforts to eradicate human trafficking.

Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, has been charged with soliciting prostitution at a spa in Florida, where surveillance video showed him receiving sexual services, police said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft is among more than two dozen people accused in a police sting as part of a human trafficking probe, according to authorities in Jupiter, Florida.

"He is one of the individuals. That would be Mr. Robert Kraft," Police Chief Daniel Kerr said at a press conference.

"He is being charged with the same offense as the others, and that is soliciting another to commit prostitution."

"We're as equally stunned as anyone else," said the chief, referring to Kraft's alleged crime, which is a misdemeanor.

Kraft is a friend of President Donald Trump, who last month touted his administration's efforts to eradicate human trafficking. Trump said human traffickers commit "heinous crimes."

Kraft is not accused of or charged with being involved in human trafficking.

A spokesman for Kraft said, "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told CNBC, "The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments."

The NFL has a personal conduct policy that mandates that players, owners and other employees "must refrain from 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in' the NFL."

Trump, when asked about Kraft by reporters in the Oval Office said, "It's very sad," but also noted that, "He's proclaimed his innocence."

"I'm very suprised to see it," Trump said.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft listens to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speak to the media over various topics in the league leading up to Super Bowl LIII at the Georgia World Congress Center on January 30, 2019, in Atlanta, GA.
Austin McAfee | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft listens to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speak to the media over various topics in the league leading up to Super Bowl LIII at the Georgia World Congress Center on January 30, 2019, in Atlanta, GA.

Kraft, who is worth an estimated $6.6 billion, was not in custody, but an arrest warrant will be issued for him charging him with two counts of soliciting.

Kraft is accused of soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, where an investigation had found women were being held there in "sexual servitude."

Many of the women at the spa were from China, and were not allowed to leave the premises, police said, according to the TCPalm.com news site. Police have already arrested multiple people accused of being involved in the business.

Kraft is being charged with crimes connected to two separate visits to the spa after being driven there, police said. Police also said he seemed to be a "regular" at the business, which is located about 20 miles north of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, which Kraft also regularly visits.

Average fees for sexual services at the spa range from $59 for a half-hour to $79 for an hour, police said.

Police said evidence in the cases came from witnesses, surveillance video and body cameras worn by officers. The video includes Kraft receiving sexual services, investigators told reporters.

Investigators did not say when Kraft visited the spa.

Kraft is chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group, a private holding company that owns a variety of businesses, including the Patriots, which he bought in 1994, and a paper-manufacturing conglomerate.

Kraft earlier this month celebrated his team's record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory, over the Los Angeles Rams.

Forbes last year estimated that the Patriots were worth $3.8 billion, making them the second-most valuable NFL franchise, after the Dallas Cowboys.

Kraft's wife, Myra Hiatt, died in 2011. Since 2012, he has dated actress Ricki Noel Lander, who is now age 39.

— Additional reporting by Brian Schwartz