By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) – The owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots could be spared prosecution on charges of soliciting prostitution in Florida if he agrees to community service and other obligations, a spokesman for prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Robert Kraft, the National Football League team owner, is receiving the same offer from the Office of the State Attorney for Palm Beach County as the other first-time misdemeanour offenders caught up in the case last month, said Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the office. Edmondson declined to say if Kraft has agreed to the offer for avoiding prosecution.
Kraft, 77, a businessman who built the Patriots into the NFL’s most dominant franchise, was charged following a police sting targeting sex-trafficking in day spas and massage parlours. The operation has led to charges against hundreds of people.
An attorney for Kraft could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for the New England Patriots did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors would defer prosecution of Kraft if he agrees to 100 hours of community service, receives education on the harms of prostitution, undergoes screening for sexually transmitted diseases and pays court costs, Edmondson said by phone.
Prosecutors also generally require defendants avoiding prosecution in such cases to admit guilt or acknowledge that prosecutors would prevail in the case at trial, he said.
Kraft is one of 25 people who were charged in Palm Beach County with soliciting prostitution, a charge with a maximum sentence one year in jail if a person is convicted.
The New England Patriots play just outside Boston. Kraft lives in Massachusetts but owns property in Florida’s wealthy Palm Beach, 80 miles (130 km) north of downtown Miami.
Kraft is accused of visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in the Palm Beach County community of Jupiter on two separate occasions to solicit sex and was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution.
Kraft, a friend and supporter of President Donald Trump, could face discipline from the NFL under a policy that applies to team owners and prohibits “conduct detrimental to the integrity” of the NFL.
In 2004, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was suspended six games and fined $500,000 (£376,674) after he pleaded guilty to driving while on drugs.
Kraft’s wife of many decades, Myra Hiatt Kraft, died in 2011 of ovarian cancer. He has not remarried.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; editing by Bill Tarrant and Grant McCool)