Attorneys for Robert Kraft accused police of carrying out an overly invasive “NSA-style surveillance campaign” in their motion to suppress video that allegedly shows Kraft soliciting sex acts at a spa in Florida.
“The (Jupiter Police Department) resorted to the most drastic, invasive, indiscriminate spying conceivable by law enforcement – taking continuous video recordings of private massages in which customers would be stripping naked as a matter of course – in order to prosecute what are at most misdemeanor offenses,” the attorneys write.
Kraft, the owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. Lawyers have said the 77-year-old first-time offender is unlikely to receive prison time for the charges if he’s found guilty. However, the release of the video filmed inside the spa would be damaging to his reputation, experts said.
Kraft waived his arraignment and has requested a jury trial in the case, and his attorneys have asked that the video be suppressed. A source familiar with the case said Kraft will not accept a plea deal offered by Florida prosecutors.
The new filing particularly criticizes the use of what’s known as a “sneak and peek” warrant, which allows law enforcement to search private premises without notifying the subject of the warrant until later. The provision was one of the most controversial aspects of the Patriot Act, the law passed after the 9/11 attacks that expanded federal government surveillance powers.
Kraft’s attorneys say they cannot find any instance of a statute or legal decision in Florida law that authorizes law enforcement to get a “sneak and peek” warrant, saying it is “virtually unheard of in Florida.”
Using that warrant, which was approved by a judge, police secretly installed video cameras inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on January 17. The affidavit says they used a “tactical ruse” at the business to remove the occupants and install the cameras.
That ruse, Kraft’s attorneys say, was a phony “suspicious package” warning that forced an evacuation at the spa. The videos, they added, were the “fruits of an unlawful sneak and peek warrant.”
Trafficking case with no trafficking charges
In February, authorities said solicitation charges filed against Kraft and two dozen other men was part of a broader, global human trafficking investigation.
So far, no human trafficking charges have been filed in this case.
Kraft’s attorneys said that police used “eye-popping invasions” for a case that is just a “run-of-the-mill misdemeanor.”
“Far more worrisome than any alleged misdemeanor are the astonishing lengths to which law enforcement went in order to orchestrate a calculated, systematic campaign to blow past established constitutional limits,” the attorneys said.
According to an affidavit, the videos show a female employee manipulating Kraft’s genitals and later wiping them with a towel on January 19. The videos also show Kraft’s visit the next day in which a woman manipulated his genitals and then put her head down by them, the affidavit states.
The attorneys argued that the investigation violated the Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure. They also said the traffic stop that identified Kraft after his spa visit was done without any evidence of a traffic violation or reasonable suspicion.
“Law enforcement had no plausible justification for going to the extreme, invasive lengths it did just to investigate suspicion of mere solicitation,” the attorney write.