Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office has appealed a lower court ruling tossing out video footage that allegedly captured New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft engaging in sex acts that he paid for at a day spa in Jupiter, Fla. in January.
Kraft’s guilt in his pending prostitution case is “a virtual certainty,” and the warrant that allowed police to install cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa passed legal muster, prosecutors wrote in a brief filed Tuesday night in the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
Kraft, 78, the owner of the New England Patriots, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution and has denied engaging in illegal activity.
“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 the 50-page filing.
A lawyer for Kraft declined to comment Wednesday. Kraft’s attorneys have 30 days to file their response.
His legal team had successfully argued in a lower court that the video clips should not be admitted as evidence, in part, because the warrant failed to instruct police to avoid the filming and monitoring of people getting legitimate massages. a legal principle known as minimization.
Kraft’s team also raised a number of other issues in seeking to quash the footage, but the lower court ruling was based mainly on the minimization argument.
But prosecutors believe search warrant met federal legal thresholds “ . . . which together require only that the warrant be issued by a neutral and detached magistrate, be predicated on a showing of probable cause, and be particularized as to the place to be searched and items to be seized,” Moody’s office wrote in Tuesday’s brief.
In May, Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser disagreed, siding with Kraft’s lawyers who said the warrant was flawed.
While the “sneak and peek” warrant met several legal thresholds, it did not take the necessary precautions to protect the privacy of those receiving legitimate massages, Hanser ruled.
“The fact that some totally innocent women and men had their entire lawful time spent in a massage room fully recorded and viewed intermittently by a detective monitor is unacceptable,” he wrote in May.
The cameras allegedly captured Kraft and 24 other men paying for sex at the spa during a five-day surveillance operation in January, shortly before the Patriots won a thrilling AFC title game en route to their sixth Super Bowl championship.
And, prosecutors wrote, none “of those four individuals were recorded naked.” Two of them were men and two were women.