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Billionaire Kraft, others face formal charges in Florida prostitution probe

Billionaire Kraft, others face formal charges in Florida prostitution probe
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrives for the 89th Academy Awards Oscars Vanity Fair Party in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., February 26, 2017. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok Copyright Danny Moloshok(Reuters)
Copyright Danny Moloshok(Reuters)
By Reuters
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(Reuters) - Florida prosecutors are preparing to file formal charges against more than two dozen men, including Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots football team, for soliciting prostitution at massage parlours, authorities said on Monday.

The investigation by law enforcement officers in three Florida counties into the trafficking of young women to work at day spas and massage parlours has led to hundreds being charged.

On Friday, police named Kraft, 77, as a client at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, saying they had video of him engaging in sex acts with a worker there on two occasions and that he would be charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanour. He was one of at least two dozen men accused of paying for sex at the spa.

Prosecutors from the state attorney's office in West Palm Beach will file probable cause affidavits in court against Kraft and other men identified by the Jupiter police department on Friday, according to Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Arrest warrants for the accused men, including Kraft, are also expected to be announced soon.

The state attorney's West Palm Beach office will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday to discuss the formal filing of charges.

Kraft denies engaging in "any illegal activity," according to Aaron Salkin, a spokesman for Kraft and the Super Bowl champion Patriots, the National Football League's dominant franchise.

The NFL, which said last week it was monitoring the case, released a new statement on Monday saying everyone, including team owners, were bound by the league's personal conduct policy.

"We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation," the statement said. "We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts."

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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