Robert K. Kraft’s legal team includes the attorney who helped Julian Edelman fight his suspension for using performance enhancing drugs and a second attorney who helped prosecute Martha Stewart as a Florida judge declared the soliciting prostitution charges against the Patriots owner a “high profile proceeding.”
In papers filed in Palm Beach court on Wednesday, Judge Frank Castor activated rules overseeing media coverage of high profile trials for what has been described in court papers as Kraft’s March 28 arraignment on two counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution.
It is not clear, however, whether Kraft will attend. A boilerplate court order filed in Kraft’s case declared that defendants must appear, but Kraft’s Florida-based defense attorney, Jack A. Goldberger, has said his client doesn’t have to show up because the charges are misdemeanors, and his attendance is not required.
But with the court date approaching and as negotiations continue between Kraft and State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office over a possible plea deal, two of Kraft’s high profile lawyers lawyers, Alex Spiro and William A. Burck, filed paperwork asking for permission to represent the 77-year-old billionaire in Florida. Spiro and Burck are both partners in the Quinn Emanuel law firm, but are not members of the Florida bar.
According to Spiro’s profile on the firm website, he is a Tufts University graduate who spent five years at McLean Hospital in Belmont, widely considered to be a top flight psychiatric hospital, where he supervised an adolescent treatment center and ran a “program for children with autisim and Asperger’s syndrome.”
Spiro shifted his attention to the legal profession where he graduated from Harvard Law School and has since worked as a prosecutor in Manhattan, where he prosecuted serial killers and was part of a conviction integrity team.
As a defense lawyer, Spiro represented Edelman, the Patriots wide receiver who was suspended by the NFL for four games last season for using performance enhancing drugs, ESPN reported. Spiro also was part of former Patriots tight end Aaron J. Hernandez’s defense team in a 2017 double-murder trial, where Hernandez was acquitted.
“Mr. Spiro has, as lead counsel, tried well over 50 cases to verdict. Notably, over the last several years, he has secured a string of significant acquittals for his clients in both federal and state court,’’ his biography reads.
Burck was special counsel to President George W. Bush and worked as a federal prosecutor in New York City, where he participated in the 2004 prosecution of lifestyle maven Stewart for obstruction of justice, a conviction that sent Stewart to prison for several months.
The three attorneys first notified the court they were representing Kraft on Feb. 26, according to court records.
The Globe reported Wednesday that Kraft rejected a proposed deal that would have required him to admit Florida prosecutors could prove he had solicited prostitution as his attorneys asked a judge to keep video footage of the alleged sexual encounters out of public view.
Kraft believes the offer of a deal, which the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office said was standard for first-time misdemeanor offenders, pushed the legal requirements for “deferred prosecution” beyond what is routinely expected, a person familiar with Kraft’s legal strategy said Wednesday.
The offer typically requires defendants to acknowledge that prosecutors have enough evidence to possibly persuade a jury they are guilty, said the person who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the case. That leaves room for defendants to assert that they might have been acquitted if the case had gone to trial.
In Kraft’s case, prosecutors said they would drop the charges only if he acknowledged that he would have been proven guilty of the charges, something Kraft is adamant he will never do, the person said.
In Jupiter, police secretly installed a video camera before Kraft and 24 other men were charged as part of a lengthy investigation into the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which authorities have said is connected to a large human trafficking ring. However, no one implicated in the Jupiter prosecution has been charged with human trafficking.
Kraft, through a spokesperson, has adamantly insisted he did not commit a crime when he visited the spa on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.
The investigation by Jupiter police was part of a larger law enforcement probe into human trafficking in the region. That has led to charges against some 200 men who allegedly visited spas in three counties.
The National Football League has said it is aware of the charges against Kraft.