New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft really doesn't want the public to be able to see videos that prosecutors say show him getting sexual services in a Florida spa for cash — but the case's top cop expects that salacious footage eventually will be given to the media and others.
"I do think ultimately they are probably going to get released," Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told CNBC on Thursday, a day after Kraft moved to keep police surveillance videos of him sealed.
"Once a case is over, it's not an ongoing investigation," Snyder said. "There has to be a specific reason not to release a public record. And the fact that there is sexual activity is not an exemption."
Snyder led the sprawling human-trafficking probe in South Florida that ended up with Kraft and more than 300 other people in Martin, Palm Beach and Indian River counties being hit with prostitution-related charges.
Police had installed hidden cameras in five of eight spas as part of the investigation.
Some of those cameras, according to court records, captured Kraft receiving sexual services from two women at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, on Jan. 19. A day later, authorities say, he received services from another woman — just hours before he watched his Patriots win the AFC Championship in Kansas City, Missouri.
Kraft, 77, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of soliciting prostitution. The billionaire businessman, whose National Football League team won its record-tying sixth Super Bowl last month, is due to appear in court on March 28.
On Wednesday, Kraft and 14 other defendants filed a motion for a protective order in Palm Beach County Circuit Court seeking to block the release of surveillance video in the case. A similar motion for a protective order was also filed in the Martin County case.
The requested Palm Beach County order would "preclude any party from copying or permitting, facilitating, making or granting any public access to the evidence gathered during the investigation at issue, including any video evidence related thereto, pending further order of the Court."
The motion notes that the videos are currently exempt from public disclosure because the case is ongoing.
But Snyder said he would follow Florida's open-records law once the case has been closed — and he expects that authorities who are responsible for Kraft's case would do likewise.
"The question is if they plead guilty and the case goes away, will it be subject to public record?" Snyder said. "I think the answer is likely yes."
"But until then there is a court order that seals those files," Snyder added.
CNBC reported last week that police had obtained what is known as a sneak-and-peek warrant that allowed them to enter the spas and install hidden cameras.
Snyder said his detectives posed as employees in other occupations.
Police in Jupiter, which is located in Palm Beach County, used an undisclosed ruse to gain access to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa that Kraft had visited.
Detectives monitored the video in real time from a secure room in the sheriff's office, he said.
Snyder said he has seen some of the illegal activity captured on video, which he described as "explicit sexual and graphic."
"I watched and just left the room," he said. "There is nothing to see. It's pretty ugly."
Snyder has a warning to other potential defendants.
"If you want to engage a prostitute," he said, "you have the risk of being videotaped if you do it in Martin County."