Robert Kraft, chairman and chief executive officer of New England Patriots LP, arrives for the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Robert Kraft Seeks Jury Trial in Florida Prostitution Case

(Bloomberg) -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft requested a jury trial on misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitutes, the latest development in an investigation of Florida massage parlors that also ensnared other powerful men.

In a filing Tuesday, Kraft reiterated his not-guilty plea and waived an arraignment hearing scheduled for later this week.

Prosecutors had offered to drop charges against Kraft and the others if they agreed to certain conditions, including an admission that they’d have been proven guilty, agree to take a course on prostitution and perform community service.

But by requesting a trial and setting a court date, Kraft is signaling he won’t take the offer, said Cyrus Toufanian, a criminal trial attorney and former prosecutor in West Palm Beach. Prosecutors have essentially showed their hand in offering the plea, and Kraft’s legal team is calling their bluff, Toufanian said.

Police say Kraft and the other men visited a Jupiter, Florida, day spa called Orchids of Asia that is part of a strip mall with an Outback Steakhouse and a nail salon. Once there, the men allegedly paid for sexual favors. The charges were part of a sweeping investigation into human trafficking that police say spans from China to Florida to the Northeast.

Kraft allegedly visited the spa twice, including once on the morning of the American Football Conference championship game between his Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.

While authorities have yet to produce evidence that human trafficking occurred at Orchids of Asia, they say all of the alleged acts that took place there were captured by hidden cameras. Kraft’s legal team has moved to block release of the photographic evidence.

If the men are convicted at a trial of a misdemeanor, each could face as long as a year in prison. Last week, Kraft issued an apology for disappointing family, friends, co-workers and fans.

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