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22 Feb, 2019 17:53

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution

Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa that has links to a large-scale human trafficking ring, police say.

Kraft, 77, was charged with paying for sexual services at Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida – one of 10 spas shut down after a months-long investigation into foreign women being held in "sexual servitude", according to the police report. 

Police also say that numerous acts were captured on surveillance video. Kraft is understood to be among 25 people who were arrested and was reportedly a "regular" at the spa.

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A spokesperson for Kraft released the following statement: "We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

Women who worked in the spa, many of whom were from China, are understood to have lived in the spa and were not permitted to leave, say the Martin County Sheriff Department. 

Kraft has been the owner of the Patriots since purchasing them for a fee of $172mn (€151mn) in 1994, during which time the team has had an unprecedented era of success, particularly during the overlapping Bill Belichick and Tom Brady eras.

They have appeared in ten Super Bowls, winning six of them, during Kraft's ownership. 

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Kraft is also the head of the Kraft Group, a holding group which maintains businesses in various sectors including sports and real estate, and is worth an estimated $6.6bn (€5.8bn), per Forbes.

The operator of the spa, Hua Zhang, has been arrested and charged with deriving funds from prostitution, as well as with additional, connected charges.