Mon Jun 29 1:33am ET
By TERRY SPENCER
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Prosecutors charging New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with twice buying sex from massage parlor prostitutes will attempt to save their case this week by arguing to an appeals court that his rights weren't violated when police secretly video-recorded him in the act.
Prosecutors will tell the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal during an online hearing Tuesday that a county judge erred when he invalidated the January 2019 search warrant allowing police to install secret cameras at Orchids of Asia spa as part of an alleged sex trafficking investigation.
The judge said the warrant didn’t sufficiently protect the privacy of innocent customers who received legal massages, and he barred the videos’ use at trial as well as testimony about what they showed. If the ruling stands, it will deal a fatal blow to the prosecution's case.
“Mr. Kraft's guilt is a virtual certainty” and he has no right to benefit from any possible mistakes police made involving innocent customers, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey DeSousa wrote in court documents.
Kraft's attorneys vehemently disagreed, arguing that if the three-justice panel allows the videos' use, “civil liberties cherished in Florida and beyond” will be endangered.
“If the state wins this appeal, then everyone loses, not just the accused,” attorney Frank Shepherd wrote. “Government could run roughshod over privacy and constitutional rights while evading scrutiny.”
The Jupiter police recordings led to misdemeanor charges against Kraft and two dozen other alleged Orchids of Asia customers. The spa owners and some employees are charged with prostitution-related felonies.
Most cases are in limbo while the appeals are heard. If prosecutors can’t use the videos, they would almost certainly dismiss any misdemeanor charges awaiting trial. Some defendants took plea deals but Kraft refused. The felony cases could proceed, as those have other evidence besides the videos.
Kraft, a 79-year-old widower and part-time Palm Beach resident, has pleaded not guilty but issued a
He faces a possible one-year jail sentence if convicted, but would likely receive a fine, community service and other sanctions. Kraft, whom
ranks as the 82nd richest American with a worth of almost $7 billion, is employing
DeSousa submitted several arguments against Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser's ruling. Among them:
- The warrant is valid because police minimized any privacy invasion by having only three detectives monitor video. Any further minimization, such as recording only snippets of each massage, would have made the investigation impossible.
- Kraft illegally paid for sex and is lawfully covered by the warrant, even if the justices determine police violated innocent customers' privacy rights.
- If the warrant is invalid, the detectives relied on it “in good faith” and a sanction banning the video is too extreme.
Shepherd submitted several counterarguments for Kraft. They include:
- Detectives' privacy protection efforts were insufficient because they recorded seminude men and women receiving legal massages, making the Kraft recordings also illegal.
- Police had enough evidence to charge the spa owners with felonies without recording, making the cameras “wholly gratuitous."
- The evidence detectives presented to obtain the magistrate's warrant approval was “deliberately misleading,” negating any argument they acted in good faith.
The justices won’t immediately rule after the hearing; decisions usually takes weeks. The losing side will likely appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, which could accept the case or let the justices’ ruling stand.
Authorities say the Orchids of Asia investigation was part of a
by spa owners who they believe brought women from China and elsewhere to work as prostitutes. About 300 people were charged with various felonies and misdemeanors, but no trafficking charges were pursued - prosecutors say they received
According to police, Kraft's chauffeur drove him to Orchids of Asia on the evening of Jan. 19, 2019, where detectives recorded him engaging in a sex act with two women and then paying an undetermined amount in cash.
Investigators said Kraft returned the next morning and engaged in recorded sex acts with a woman before paying with a $100 bill and another bill.
where his Patriots defeated the Chiefs. His team then won the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta, the Patriots’ sixth NFL championship under his ownership.
to drop the charges if Kraft entered a diversion program for first-time offenders. That would include an admission he would be found guilty if the case went to trial, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and attending a class on the dangers of prostitution and its connection to human trafficking.
July 5th: Tightend Preview
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (foot) is "almost certain to start" the season on the PUP list according to Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that Jeffery still does not have a set timetable for a return, and with time running out before training camp starts, Jeffery is almost a sure thing to be at best working off to the side. It remains to be seen if he will recover quickly enough to be ready at the start of the season, but if he does indeed land on the PUP list, he'll miss at least six games. Jeffery has been hyped up to have a big role this season, but if he misses that many games and the Eagles offense works well with DeSean Jackson and their rookies starting at wide receiver, Jeffery could find himself without much playing time even if healthy.
The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed offensive lineman Jason Peters to bolster their already formidable line. The nine-time Pro Bowler has been the team's left tackle since 2009, but will reportedly play guard under his new one-year contract. The Eagles seemed comfortable letting Peters walk as they have 2019 first-round pick, Andre Dillard, to protect Carson Wentz's blindside. However, right guard Brandon Brooks (Achilles) suffered a season-ending injury so Philadelphia turned to an old friend to fill the void on the right side. Peters will now play between fellow Pro-Bowlers Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce giving the Eagles arguably the best offensive line in the league which is good news for Wentz and second-year running back Miles Sanders.
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry is unlikely to strike a long-term deal by the franchise tag deadline Wednesday, July 15, according to a source. He's scheduled to make $10.27 million and become a free agent next offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Henry is a stud RB1 in fantasy, but he suffers in PPR formats and may drop closer to a midrange RB1.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas is the top-ranked wideout on Sports Illustrated's Big Board for the upcoming campaign. Thomas finished 2019 miles ahead of the No. 2 receiver in all formats. While contributor Bill Enright doesn't foresee another record-breaking season for the 27-year-old, he expects him to lead the league once again in many statistical categories. Thomas will hopefully be catching passes from Drew Brees for an entire 16-game stretch in 2020, with the future hall of fame signal-caller also having the luxury of playing behind one of the most efficient offensive lines in the league.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley could be the league's leading rusher this season, according to Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton. Barkley is predicted to run for nearly 1,500 yards and could benefit immensely from the arrival of former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. The 23-year-old struggled in 2019 after dealing with a high-ankle sprain that cost him three games. He still managed to exceed 1,000 yards on the ground but took a step back in scoring production. If Barkley can remain healthy in 2020 and the offensive line holds up, the former Nittany Lion could be in store for his best campaign to date. Though Christian McCaffrey is the consensus No. 1 overall back in fantasy rankings, the case could be made for Barkley to be selected ahead of him.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and the team have no scheduled talks ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign contract extensions. Things can change with a quick phone call, but there has not been urgency to get a deal done. It has been reported the Cowboys offered Prescott a five-year deal, but Prescott's side would prefer a four-year deal with options. Prescott is scheduled to make $31.4 million under the tag this season, but may look elsewhere if he is allowed to test the market next winter. Prescott would be just the third quarterback to play a season under the franchise tag and the previous two- Drew Brees and Kirk Cousins- signed with different teams after their seasons. Prescott's dynasty value would be less certain without a guarantee of playing in Dallas's high-octane offense.
New York Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams is expected to play the 2020 season under the franchise tag. According to Ian Rapoport, the two sides are on the same page that Williams will play under the tag ahead of Wednesday's deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. The hope is he excels in a new system and becomes a big part of New York's future after they traded for the former first-rounder in the middle of last season. Williams is an excellent run defender, but doesn't provide much IDP value as he has just 17.5 career sacks since entering the league in 2015.
Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) is not receiving interest from the Dallas Cowboys because of his expensive asking price, according to a source.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill said he wants to post 2,000 receiving yards this upcoming season.
Fantasy Spin: Hill finished the 2019 season with 1,479 receiving yards, so 2,000 yards is an unlikely goal to reach. He will still be part on one of the top offenses in the NFL and should be a No. 1 receiver in all fantasy leagues.
Free-agent TE Jordan Reed (Redskins) has three teams interested in signing him, and Reed intends to play in 2020.
Fantasy Spin: It's tough to envision a team putting all of its eggs in the Jordan Reed basket in 2020, but as Ian Rapoport pointed out, this is a low-risk, high-reward signing situation. The veteran is notoriously injury-prone and would likely be added as a situational player, rather than a full-time starter. Given the connection to the Jacksonville Jaguars with now-offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, it's reasonable to assume a possible pairing with fellow marshmallow Tyler Eifert.
Updating an ongoing story, New York Giants DE Leonard Williams is expected to sign his one-year franchise tag offer before the Wednesday, July 15, deadline, according to sources, and play out the season. New York brass hopes he thrives in the new defensive system and is a long-term member of the team.
Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) was informed that his agent, Kristin Campbell, has terminated their relationship Sunday, July 12.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman still looks to be holding out for more money than his market value is dictating at the moment. He might have to wait for an injury to sign, but he'll be a potential RB3 in fantasy when he does.
Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the team are reportedly 'not close' to agreeing to a contract extension as of Sunday, July 12, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News via a source. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement or Prescott will be forced to play the 2020 season under the $31.4 million franchise tag he signed recently.
San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman has allowed a completion rate of 47 percent to receivers in his coverage since 2010 - the best mark in the NFL over that span per Pro Football Focus.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was recently ranked as the 11th best at his position by an anonymous NFL offensive coach. The coach would go on to state that the 24-year-old "doesn't look as strong anymore. Feels like he's about 60 to 70 percent of what he was." Elliott was quick to dismiss these comments, but some fantasy managers may pay attention to these remarks, especially if they are drafting after the selections of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. The fifth-year back did have one of the most productive years as a professional in 2019, finishing with 1,357 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns off of 301 attempts. He also added 54 catches for 420 yards and two additional scores. While those numbers don't indicate a downward trend, the former Buckeye will be without the guidance of former head coach Jason Garrett in 2020, who is now the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.
San Francisco 49ers CB Jamar Taylor has a chance to make the final roster because he has experience at outside cornerback as well as slot cornerback and plays on special teams, in the opinion of NinersWire's Kyle Madson.
Free-agent DEs Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks), Everson Griffen (Vikings) and DE Markus Golden (Giants) likely will not receive interest from the New York Jets because the team wants to move their unspent salary cap space to next season, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has plenty of hype entering the 2020 campaign and should continue to be the No. 1 fantasy selection in the majority of fantasy drafts heading into September. However, according to a poll conducted by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, more than 50 percent of league executives view Saquon Barkley as the top back in the league. As claimed by one anonymous AFC executive, McCaffrey is "not as sturdy as Saquon. Not the same speed-and-power combo." While this declaration may not hinder fantasy managers from taking McCaffrey first overall in drafts, it could give many something to think about.
New England Patriots RB Sony Michel (foot) is no longer wearing a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot.
Fantasy Spin: Michel will be ready for training camp and should receive most of the carries this season but will have to share snaps with several other backs. He should be considered at least a No. 3 running back in fantasy leagues.
Free-agent WR Terrelle Pryor (Jaguars) said he is looking to play in 2020 and has talked with five teams this offseason. He said he would like to play for the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.