Patriots Owner Faces Up to One Year in Jail for Solicitation

(Bloomberg) -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft could face as long as a year in jail after he was among 25 men ensnared in an investigation into prostitution at a Florida spa, the Palm Beach County state attorney said Monday.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said prosecutors charged the men, including Kraft, with soliciting prostitution. That’s a first-degree misdemeanor that’s punishable by up to a $5,000 civil penalty, 100 hours of community service and human trafficking awareness training, in addition to the jail time, according to Aronberg.

Kraft, 77, was charged with two separate counts, including one that allegedly took place -- as police videotaped the incident -- on the morning of the American Football Conference championship game between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Kraft, through a representative, has denied committing a crime.

The charges were part of a broader investigation into human trafficking rings that span from China to Florida, which police and prosecutors say prey on vulnerable women, shuttling them from spa to spa and forcing them to sleep on massage tables and cook meals on hot plates in the back of the shop.

All the defendants were allegedly caught at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, where the johns are said to have paid $59-$79 for the services. The spa operated out of a strip mall near an Outback Steakhouse and a nail salon, in a Palm Beach County town popular among wealthy entrepreneurs, bankers and other celebrities.

Aronberg said no human trafficking charges had been specifically brought in relation to the Orchids of Asia, but that it was still possible.

“These cases aren’t about any one defendant or any group of defendants,” Aronberg said in West Palm Beach Monday. “The larger picture, which we must all confront, is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are victims, often lured into this country with promises of a better life, only to be forced to live and work in a sweatshop or a brothel, subject to force, fraud or coercion.”

Kraft is being treated as a Palm Beach County resident and got a summons through his lawyer.

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