SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez breaks down the numerous developments in the Robert Kraft case.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s attorneys and prosecutors argued for about six hours Friday about the admissibility of the surveillance video from a massage parlor in Jupiter, Florida.
The hearing concluded with no ruling from Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser on whether prosecutors can use the footage that allegedly shows Kraft getting sex services from workers at the spa. The hearing will resume in the same West Palm Beach courtroom Tuesday.
Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution, both misdemeanors, and pleaded not guilty. He has requested a jury trial. He was not in court for the hearing.
Hanser said he would review the footage in his chambers before the next hearing.
Jupiter Police Department Detective Andrew Sharp’s testimony took up most of the hearing.
Alex Spiro, one of Kraft’s attorneys, questioned Sharp’s qualifications to lead the investigation and probed how much input the Martin County Sheriff’s office – the agency that alerted Jupiter police to possible illicit activity at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa – had in drafting the “sneak and peek” warrant.
Kraft’s legal team attacked the legality of the delayed-notice warrant obtained by Jupiter police as it had in various court filings over the last two months. That warrant allowed investigators to install covert security cameras to record during a five-day period in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Kraft allegedly visited the spa on consecutive days in January.
A “suspicious package” warning in the area was the method used, legal under the Patriot Act that allows for such delayed-notice warrants. Sharp testified the bomb scare was the best path to allow for investigators to plant cameras inside the spa and it was done late at night so as not to disturb other businesses in the same shopping center.
Sharp also testified he sought help from Boca Raton police detectives, who conducted a similar sting operation in 2014. USA TODAY Sports detailed the similarities of the two surveillance operations earlier this month and how the diversion deals of the men charged in the 2014 case differed from the cases of the 25 men charged in Jupiter.
Hanser ruled on Tuesday the same footage will not be released to the public until a jury has been sworn in or the case is otherwise resolved.The Palm Beach County State Attorney responded with a 49-page filing Thursday, arguing the legality of the delayed-notice warrant along with the car stop where Kraft was identified after he left the spa.
In the filing, prosecutors used graphic details to describe the sex acts Kraft had performed on him and how police stopped a white Bentley in which he was a passenger after his first visit Jan. 19.
Kraft, who was not arrested and visited the spa again the next day, showed the officer one of his Super Bowl rings and asked if the officer was a Miami Dolphins fan, according to the filing by the State Attorney.
Kraft attorney Jack Goldberger complained about the filing coming hours before Friday’s hearing, but Hanser ruled that the suppression hearing would go forward.
Also expected to be discussed is a motion by prosecutors to eliminate 26 subpoenas for 22 law-enforcement officers and four Department of Health workers, who argue that proper procedures weren’t followed.
The case involving Orchids of Asia Day Spa began being disclosed Feb. 19 at a media briefing at the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff William Snyder said his agency targeted four spas in Martin County and spoke of the cases in the context of human trafficking.
In court April 12, Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos said at the outset of the investigation, there appeared to be human trafficking involved, but as the case went on, and after evaluating the evidence, there didn’t appear to be human trafficking.
Greenlee reported from West Palm Beach, Florida.
Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez and Will Greenlee @OffTheBeatTweet