Robert Kraft will be officially charged by prosecutors early next week, according to the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office.
Police in Jupiter, Florida announced Friday that they had charged the New England Patriots owner with two counts of soliciting prostitution. The charges resulted from of a string of busts on massage parlors that, according to law enforcement, were used for prostitution and human trafficking along the state’s Treasure Coast. If convicted, Kraft could face a maximum of 120 days in county jail.
Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office, said that while local police have filed charges, his office has yet to officially issue them to those involved. Edmondson said his office has the file submitted by Jupiter police and prosecutors are reviewing it. Edmondson said that Kraft, who lives in Massachusetts, would not be extradited to face these charges.
“It’s a non-extraditable offense,” Edmondson said. “Someone could stay out of the jurisdiction and not be subject to arrest. This is a second-degree misdemeanor, and the [arrest] warrant would be enforceable only in the state of Florida.”
Deadspin asked Edmondson about a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter saying he’d been “told that Robert Kraft is not the biggest name involved down there in South Florida.” Edmondson responded: “Nobody around here has any idea what [Schefter] is referring to.”
Attorney Stewart Ryan, who handled similar cases during his time as a prosecutor with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, says large busts like the one that resulted in the charges against Kraft are part of a shift to target the people who run the establishments.
“That was something I know I focused on and others continue to do so which is going to these establishing and trying to seize as much as you can in terms of paperwork, documents, and financial statements,” said Ryan, now an associate attorney at Laffey Bucci and Kent in Philadelphia. “To shut it down at the top level, as opposed to just going in and arresting people on prostutiton charges, and then the shop moves down the street and opens up again a week later.”
It is not uncommon for such large-scale prostitution cases to also involve charges of human trafficking, Ryan said. People brought in to work, sometimes from another country, come “understanding something very different than they end up doing,” and find themselves working under brutal conditions with few options for recourse or escape. “I couldn’t count the number of stings we did that, I’ll say, are similar, during my years as a prosecutor,” Ryan said.
Edmondson wouldn’t hypothesize about how Kraft might respond to the impending charges, but when asked how an out-of-state resident could deal with these type of criminal charges in a low-key way, he said the accused could hire an attorney and have them file a notice of representation—letting the court know that the defendant has retained legal counsel and that counsel will represent that person in court.
“Quite often,” Edmondson said, “the judge doesn’t necessary have to see the alleged offender at the beginning of the case.”
Next, the case would be set for trial unless a plea agreement is reached. Could that happen without Kraft ever appearing? That plan would have to be approved by the state attorney’s office as well as the court, Edmondson said. And how often does the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office accept a plea in absentia?
“Not very,” Edmondson answered.