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Robert Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution on morning of AFC title game

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Image: Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, walks on the field
Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, walks on the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona on Sept. 11, 2016. -
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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was officially charged Monday with two counts of soliciting a prostitute for allegedly paying a spa in Florida for a sex act on two separate occasions in January, prosecutors said.

Kraft, 77, was one of 25 people arrested on Friday on allegations he had solicited prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, which is one of several spas investigated by authorities in a months-long human trafficking probe, police said.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said during a news conference on Monday that Kraft, and the other 24 men arrested last week, were charged with first-degree misdemeanor solicitation of another to commit prostitution. None of the men is charged with human trafficking.

The billionaire CEO and chairman of The Kraft Group allegedly visited the spa twice in January, once on the 19th and again on the morning of the 20th — hours before the Patriots won the AFC Championship, sending them to the Super Bowl, according to court documents. Investigators say he was seen on surveillance video with a spa worker on both days, the court documents said.

On his Jan. 20 visit, for instance, investigators say he was seen on surveillance video paying cash "at the front desk to an Asian female," one of the affidavits released Monday said. He was then escorted into a room where authorities said the sexual activity took place.

The woman then "helped him get dressed and hugged him again" before Kraft allegedly handed her at least $100 and left, the affidavit states.

NBC News has been unable to reach the spa for comment, with calls to its number getting directed to a voicemail box that is full.

The NFL team owner has denied engaging in illegal activity.

"We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity," a spokesperson for Kraft said in a statement Friday. "Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

Authorities said Kraft is expected to be arraigned in April.

A Florida prosecutor said a solicitation of prostitution charge carries a jail sentence of up to one year plus a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and mandatory attendance at a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.

According to a Palm Beach County affidavit, online reviews of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa used various slang terms to indicate that the business provided sexual services.

Two spa employees, Lei Wang and Hua Zhang, were arrested on charges of deriving support from prostitution, maintaining a house for prostitution, and offering to commit prostitution, according to the Jupiter Police Department.

Police said Friday they could not speak on the amount of time Kraft spent at the spa, but Jupiter Detective Andrew Sharp said after "going through evidence" he can say Kraft was a "regular" patron. Police Chief Daniel Kerr said services at the spa ranged between $59 for a half-hour and $79 for an hour.

The NFL said in a statement Monday that owners as well as players are subject to the league's personal conduct policy.

"We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the 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 read. "We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.

On Monday, a law firm in Florida filed two emergency petitions in Martin and Palm Beach Counties to block the release of videotapes that show visitors to the spas under police investigation.