New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution in Florida.
Kraft was charged Friday on two counts of soliciting prostitutes, police said.
A law enforcement source told Yahoo Sports that video evidence prompted the charges against Kraft.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Kraft said, “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
Police say Kraft was swept up in expansive sting launched by multiple departments, aimed at breaking up alleged prostitution and sex-trafficking ring at massage parlors in several counties in central Florida. The sting centered on multiple parlors and at least two women identified as co-conspirators in the operation. Kraft is alleged to have engaged in illegal activity at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, located in Jupiter.
In the broader investigation, police allege that some of the women were forced to become sex workers after obtaining work permits after emigrating from China.
The probe also involved the execution of at least eight search warrants and the seizure of cash and property assets valued in the millions. Kraft’s charges, according to authorities, was centered on simple solicitation.
Kraft, 77, has been the principal owner of the Patriots since 1994, shepherding the franchise to one of the best runs in NFL history. That has included six Super Bowl titles, including the latest in February. He’s revered in New England for saving the Patriots from moving out of the region, as well as his family’s myriad philanthropic endeavors.
He’s regarded as the of the NFL’s elite owners, as shown by his selection to the NFL chairmen’s committee in August of 2016. That puts him in a select group of owners with Clark Hunt of the Chiefs, John Mara of the Giants, and Art Rooney II in Pittsburgh.
“The NFL is aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments,” the league said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Kraft’s wife, Myra, died in 2001. According to The Boston Globe, he has been in a relationship described as “on-again, off-again” with Ricki Noel Lander. Kraft denied in a statement in March of last year that he’s the biological father of Lander’s baby.