Investigators seized hundreds of thousands of dollars from operators of the Florida spa where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly paid for sexual services on two separate visits in January, records show.
The seizure of the cash and other items was detailed in legal filings related to the probe of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla. Kraft, 78, was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at the spa. He was one of 25 men charged in connection with a multiday sting at the establishment.
The Patriots owner has pleaded not guilty and denied engaging in any illegal activity. Florida prosecutors are currently appealing a judge’s order tossing video evidence that shows Kraft allegedly paying cash for sex acts.
The Palm Beach Post first reported on the cash seizures involving Orchids and accounts linked to three defendants — Hua Zhang, Lei Wang, and Shen Mingbi — who face charges stemming from their alleged roles in the prostitution ring that operated out of the spa.
The Post reported that police seized close to $425,000 in cash associated with Orchids and the three suspects, including $140,000 from one safe deposit box controlled by the spa.
In addition to cash, investigators seized a slew of other items, including automobiles and car accessories; cellphones, laptops, and tablets; immigration documents, an application for asylum, and passports; Chinese coins; bags by designers Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Tory Burch; DVDs; and jewelry and Gucci sunglasses, legal filings show.
The prosecutors’ appeal in the Kraft case is pending before the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office has said in court papers Kraft’s guilt is “a virtual certainty” and said the warrant that allowed police to install cameras inside Orchids passed legal muster.
"Based on video captured by surveillance cameras police installed in the Spa pursuant to a warrant, Mr. Kraft’s guilt is a virtual certainty,” Moody’s office wrote in an October filing.
In the brief, Moody’s office said that of the 39 recordings of customers at the spa, only four failed to capture any criminal conduct. And, prosecutors wrote, none “of those four individuals were recorded naked.” Two of them were men and two were women.
Kraft’s high-powered legal team countered in a response filing that the warrant was deeply flawed, in part because it failed to instruct police to avoid filming people getting legitimate massages, a legal principle known as minimization.
“Were the State’s perverse view of the law accepted, the minimization requirement would be gutted: criminal defendants could not raise minimization failures, and virtually no one else would be positioned to complain, let alone obtain redress,” Kraft’s attorneys wrote. “Law enforcement would have no incentive to remain within constitutional bounds when injecting the most invasive forms of surveillance into the most sensitive settings.”