A "fake bomb threat" used to justify the installation of hidden cameras in a Florida spa has been questioned by attorneys for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, according to the Boston Globe, citing legal filings.
The 77-year-old Kraft was busted in February along with 24 other men for allegedly receiving sexual favors at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, FL. The acts were reportedly caught on hidden camera, footage which Kraft's attorneys have sought to have excluded from trial.
Kraft faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution in January, for which he has pleaded not guilty and denied engaging in illegal activity.
Jupiter police got a warrant to install the cameras, and Kraft’s lawyers wrote in Tuesday’s motion that police convinced a judge to sign off on secret filming with a claim, “founded on a fiction,” that human trafficking was suspected at the spa.
Kraft and the other men accused of receiving sexual favors at the business have not been charged with human trafficking.
After a health inspector checked out the spa at the request of law enforcement, Kraft’s lawyers wrote Tuesday, police made a “reckless leap over to human trafficking based on supposed ‘evidence’ [inside the spa] consisting of such things as observing a refrigerator stocked with food, two beds, and clothing — all of which may be routinely observed at any number of places of employment, including law offices, for reasons having nothing to do with human trafficking.” -Boston Globe
Fake bomb threat
Kraft's attorneys describe in the filing how police were able to obtain their warrant in a legal filing dubbed "The JPD Installs Hidden Cameras Through A Fake Bomb Threat."
On January 18, police caused "a phony 'suspicious package' warning to be issued for the Spa in order to force an evacuation, so the [Jupiter police] could install hidden cameras inside several of its private massage rooms, as well as in the spa’s lobby," according to the filing.
According to Kraft's attorneys, such "sneak and peek" warrants are "constitutionally problematic" and should only be reserved for "extraordinary circumstances" vs. misdemeanor acts of prostitution.
In prior federal cases cited by police to justify the camera warrant, the filing said, “the underlying criminal activity that was surveilled involved felonies that were far more serious than the misdemeanor prostitution alleged to have taken place here, and the justification for the invasion was far stronger.”
The federal cases in question involved terrorism, bomb making, racketeering, extortion, cocaine trafficking, loan sharking, and counterfeiting US currency, Kraft’s lawyers said.
Prosecutors hadn’t filed a response to the memorandum as of early Wednesday afternoon.
In a related matter, a hearing that had been scheduled for April 12 in Kraft’s closely watched case was canceled. The online court docket noted that Judge Leonard Hanser will be “out of session” on that date, records show. -Boston Globe
Kraft and 15 other men have also asked the courts to seal the video recordings - a request which has been opposed by several news organizations under Florida's public records law.