Crime

Prostitution charges may be dropped if Robert Kraft accepts ‘deferred prosecution’ deal

Palm Beach prosecutors have offered New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft a way to close his misdemeanor prostitution case: By entering a “pre-trial diversion” program, his charges would be dropped.

The State Attorney’s Office confirmed that Kraft and others busted in Jupiter last month have been offered the deal, which is routine for low-level arrests. Pre-trial diversion programs generally require defendants to admit guilt and complete conditions such as taking anti-crime classes, community service and paying fines before the charges are dropped.

“For first-time offenders, these cases are generally resolved by deferred prosecution. Or they go to trial,” said State Attorney’s spokesman Mike Edmonson.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the prosecutors’ offer on Tuesday.

Kraft and scores of other suspected johns were arrested last month as part of a wide-ranging investigation into prostitution and sex trafficking at a string of massage parlors in Palm Beach, Martin and other counties.

Police say Kraft twice visited the Orchid of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, where he paid for sex acts. He is charged with two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. Authorities say they have both incidents on hidden police video.

While authorities have touted the investigation as about human trafficking, no one in Palm Beach has been charged with anything but misdemeanor prostitution.

Kraft, the billionaire owner of one of the NFL’s most successful teams, has insisted he is innocent. Whatever ever the outcome of the criminal case, Kraft will likely face punishment from the NFL. His defense lawyer could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The arrest of the famous owner has cast a spotlight on human trafficking in the U.S. massage-parlor industry. It’s also thrust into the spotlight the founder of the spa, Li “Cindy” Yang, who was photographed with President Trump and other prominent Republicans at political fundraisers and events.

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