WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s lawyers asked a Florida judge to toss out hidden-camera videos that prosecutors say show the 77-year-old billionaire receiving sexual favors for money inside a Florida massage parlor.
FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attends a conference at the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
“We think the whole warrant is unlawful,” defense attorney Jack Goldberger told Judge Leonard Hanser in Palm Beach County court.
Prosecutors, however, said Kraft cannot challenge the video’s legality because he could not have had any expectation of privacy in the first place.
“An individual who is in a business establishment with no ties to that establishment, much less there to engage in a crime, has no expectation of privacy,” Assistant State’s Attorney Greg Kridos said.
The video could be key evidence against the owner of the reigning Super Bowl champions, who faces two misdemeanor 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 Hanser to temporarily 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 parlor 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 expected 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 Zachary Fagenson, writing by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis