WEST PALM BEACH — Robert K. Kraft flashed one of his Super Bowl rings and asked a Jupiter police officer if he was a fan of the Miami Dolphins when the Patriots owner was stopped in Florida moments after he allegedly paid two women to perform a sex act on him, according to court records.
“Robert Kraft was very polite and respectful during the whole process . . . [he] asked the [officer] if he was a Dolphins fan,’’ prosecutors wrote. “He then told the officer he was the owner of the Patriots . . . and showed his Super Bowl ring.”
Kraft also mentioned that he was heading to Kansas City the next day, where the Patriots were scheduled to play the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. The officer did not know who Kraft was prior to stopping him, prosecutors wrote.
The new details about the interaction between Kraft and police on Jan. 19 were provided by Florida prosecutors before a hearing here Friday where Kraft’s legal team will directly attack the investigation that led to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution against Kraft.
Kraft, through lawyers, has pleaded not guilty and waived his presence. His lawyers Friday will ask a judge to suppress videos showing Kraft’s activity inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. Police, Kraft’s lawyers argue, illegally installed multiple cameras inside the spa.
The 77-year-old billionaire also has waged a parallel fierce legal fight to seal surveillance videos showing him on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 inside the spa prosecutors call a house of prostitution.
A judge temporarily sealed the silent videos, whose release was sought by a coalition of media outlets, including The Boston Globe, on the grounds that Florida’s expansive public records law mandates the release of evidence in all criminal cases, including Kraft’s.
But the issue Friday is whether Jupiter police conducted a legally acceptable investigation into prostitution at the spa, and whether law enforcement violated Kraft’s constitutional rights when they secretly recorded him — along with 24 other men — inside a properly licensed business.
Kraft’s lawyers argue the case “involves maximally intrusive, covert video surveillance that no American should expect to have intruding into intimate settings and that courts have recognized as raising specters of an ‘Orwellian state.’ ”
The defense added that courts “recognize that people have a legitimate expectation of privacy, particularly against covert video surveillance and other intrusive probes, once they enter secluded private areas such as dressing rooms and bathrooms, regardless of whether those areas are found within commercial or public premises.”
But Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office countered that the police had clearly established through preliminary investigation that the spa was primarily a house of prostitution, and that the use of surveillance cameras was allowed under Florida law, even though prostitution is considered a “minor” crime.
“That does not mean prostitution related crimes are automatically removed from crimes which may be the object of a search warrant in which cameras are authorized,’’ prosecutors wrote. “Florida’s wiretap statute does establish a precedent for “sneak and peak” video search warrants with delayed notice” to defendants.
The hearing before Judge Leonard Hanser also comes as three women are now facing felony charges for running a house of prostitution and earning a living from the sale of sex acts. Zua Hang is alleged to be the owner of the business while Lei Wang and Shen Mingbi allegedly managed and also engaged in sex acts for a fee.
The three women have pleaded not guilty.
Mingbi and Wang allegedly engaged with Kraft on Jan. 19. He returned to the spa on Jan. 20 around 11 a.m. — just hours before the Pats played the Chiefs, according to court records.
Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.