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Owner of NFL's Patriots wants Florida judge to toss prostitution sting video

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By Reuters
Owner of NFL's Patriots wants Florida judge to toss prostitution sting video
FILE PHOTO: Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft reacts before Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY/File Photo   -   Copyright  USA TODAY USPW(Reuters)

(Reuters) – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s lawyers on Friday are set to ask a Florida judge to toss out hidden-camera videos that prosecutors say show the 77-year-old billionaire receiving sexual favours for money inside a Florida massage parlour.

The owner of the reigning Super Bowl champions plans wants the video to not be used as evidence against him as he contests two misdemeanour counts of soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Florida, along with some two dozen other men.

His legal team is fresh off a win on Tuesday, when they successfully persuaded Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser to block prosecutors from releasing the hidden-camera footage to media outlets, which had requested copies under the state’s robust open records law.

Kraft, who has owned the franchise since 1994, pleaded not guilty, but has issued a public apology for his actions.

His attorneys have argued in court papers that the surreptitious videotaping of customers, including Kraft, inside a massage parlour was governmental overreach and the result of an illegally obtained search warrant.

The warrant, Kraft’s lawyers claim, was secured under false pretenses because police officers cited human trafficking as a potential crime in their application. Prosecutors have since acknowledged that the investigation yielded no evidence of trafficking.

Palm Beach County prosecutors in a court filing on Wednesday said Kraft’s motion should be rejected because he could not have had any expectation of privacy while visiting a commercial establishment to engage in criminal activity.

That prompted an indignant response from Kraft’s attorneys, who said the prosecution’s position on privacy was “unhinged.”

“It should go without saying that Mr. Kraft and everyone else in the United States have a reasonable expectation that the government will not secretly spy on them while they undress behind closed doors,” they wrote.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax, editing by G Crosse)