Charged with soliciting prostitution at a massage parlor, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is suing the state attorney in Palm Beach County because he claims the prosecutor’s office won’t turn over emails and other public records that might shed light on the police’s use of video evidence to make the case against him.
Kraft’s legal team says that while the Jupiter Police Department has provided some email correspondence with the prosecutor’s office, his lawyers accuse State Attorney Dave Aronberg of disobeying Florida’s public records law by failing to turn over other emails requested four months ago.
In responses, Aronberg’s office has said additional emails and other correspondence between the police and prosecutor cannot be disclosed under the public records law because they are part of the ongoing investigation or attorney work product, according to the office’s chief of legal affairs and appeals, Leigh Lassiter Miller.
“Other than those documents already provided through discovery, your requested documents and communications (to the extent such documents and communications exist) are exempt from disclosure” under Florida’s public records law, Chapter 119, Miller wrote in a letter to one of Kraft’s lawyers in September.
Kraft’s lawyers sharply disagreed, in their complaint filed Tuesday.
“In a position contrary to Florida law, Mr. Aronberg, Ms. Miller and the State Attorney’s Office now seek to use the Public Records Act as a shield to deny Mr. Kraft access to public records to which he is entitled,” said Kraft’s New York lawyer Alex Spiro.
The state attorney’s office declined to comment Wednesday on the new suit, which was filed by Miami attorney Brian Bieber along with Spiro.
Kraft’s suit is the latest salvo in the state attorney’s criminal case against Kraft and 24 other men accused of having paid for sex at storefront Asian day spas in Palm Beach and Martin counties, which authorities say are fronts for prostitution. Kraft, 77, pleaded not guilty to two counts of soliciting prostitution after his arrest in February.
The criminal case, which made national headlines, was nearly upended in May when a Palm Beach County judge banned the state attorney’s use of videos shot at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, where Kraft, a part-time county resident, and other men were accused of paying for sex.
In July, County Judge Leonard Hanser said the Jupiter police obtained the videos illegally by using a “sneak and peek” warrant, which allowed investigators to install hidden cameras that recorded all activities at the spa. The judge found that the police did not satisfy the “minimization requirement” requiring authorities to avoid seizure of materials unrelated to the suspected criminal activities. At least four people, including two women, were videotaped receiving “legitimate” massages at the Orchids of Asia.
In July, the state attorney’s case against Kraft and the other defendants was revived when an appeals court agreed to hear the prosecutor’s challenge to the judge’s ruling. On Tuesday, Aronberg’s office filed its first arguments to overturn the judge’s decision suppressing the video evidence in that case.
Prosecutors in Aronberg’s office have acknowledged that without the video evidence they would not be able to pursue the prostitution-solicitation charges against Kraft and the others.