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Patriots owner ordered to court May 21

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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez breaks down the numerous developments in the Robert Kraft case.
USA TODAY

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft hasn’t been in court as his attorneys have sought to get the video evidence  obtained inside a Florida spa tossed. 

The motion to suppress hearing spanned about 15 hours over three days and ended Wednesday – and the only major decision rendered by Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser was that Kraft will have to attend a May 21 hearing. 

Before that hearing, Hanser is expected to rule on the legality of the “sneak and peek” warrant obtained by Jupiter police to conduct their surveillance operation,  during which cameras were installed during a fake bomb scare. The hearing concluded with summations from Kraft’s legal team and prosecutors. Each side next will file written submissions before Hanser makes his decision. 

“I’m going to consider his case, and conduct his case the way I would anybody else’s case,” Hanser said.

Kraft attorney William Burck said the warrant approved by a judge in January was “beyond repair” and called into question the experience of the lead detective on the case. Burck also argued the warrant lacked instructions on minimizing covert surveillance over a period of five days in January at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

“Detective (Andrew) Sharp has no idea what experience means,” Burck said. “That became very clear.”

Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos countered that police acted in good faith to obtain the warrant. 

Jupiter Police Officer Scott Kimbark testified about police stops of vehicles of people leaving the spa who reportedly had been viewed by investigators via covert surveillance cameras getting sex acts. 

He pulled over Kraft after the first of his two alleged visits to the spa in January, but didn’t know it was him beforehand. 

“Mr. Kraft was very engaging,” Kimbark said. “He knew he was just involved in something and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t trying to line the dots up himself.

“He asked me if I was a Dolphins fan. He told me he was the owner of the New England Patriots.”

The final witness to testify was detective Danielle Hirsh, who was questioned by Kraft’s legal team about what steps were made to limit the recording of people who went to the spa for a non-illicit massage. 

Hanser has already ruled that the video won’t be released to the public until a jury is seated in the trial or the case concludes via a diversion deal or the charges are dropped. 

Kraft pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. 

MORE: Kraft sex spa video evidence will not be released in masseuse’s court case

Florida Department of Health inspector Karen Herzog testified Tuesday that she’s trained to look for red flags and signs that an establishment is being used as a “primary domicile.” She initially passed information to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office from inspections in that county last summer, according to records. 

Jupiter police began to investigate Orchids of Asia Day Spa after “information received from detectives with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office,” according to the warrant application approved by a Palm Beach County judge. 

Asked by Burck whether she thought prostitution was going on, Herzog said, “I don’t focus on prostitution. I just look for indicators, red flags of primary domicile.”

Sharp noted in the warrant application that conditions inside the spa were “consistent with individuals living inside,” which Kraft’s legal team wrote in a filing “seemed to suggest” human trafficking was taking place in order to bolster the chance the warrant would be approved. Kridos said in court in another hearing earlier in April that the investigation showed no human trafficking was found related to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. 

Contributing: Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez.

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