Lawyers for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft alleged Tuesday that authorities in Florida used a “fake bomb threat” to set up surveillance cameras inside the day spa where police claim Kraft paid to have sex with employees, according to a court filing.
Kraft’s attorneys said Jupiter police misrepresented evidence to get a search warrant that allowed them to secretly install the camera at Orchids of Asia Day Spa and got a judge to sign the warrant due to a claim, “founded on fiction,” that human trafficking was occurring at the spa, the Boston Globe reported, citing the court documents.
Police used a “suspicious package warning” on Jan. 15 to force the business to evacuate, which allowed police to secretly install hidden surveillance cameras in several private rooms at the spa, the Boston Globe reported, citing the legal filing.
“Law enforcement in this case had no authority whatsoever for something as drastic as 'sneak and peak' video surveillance,” Florida attorney Jack Goldberger wrote.
The evidence Jupiter police used to close down the spa included statements by officers used in a search warrant request that only men had been observed entering the spa, online statements from female employees admitting to accepting money for sex, evidence of sexual activity discovered in the facility's trash and confessions from men leaving the spa, according to Kraft’s attorneys.
The lawyers said, in lieu of closing the spa, however, cops sent a health inspector to spy on the business and then got the secret surveillance setup approved, resulting in officers spending several days watching men receive legal massages and, in some cases, engage in consensual sex.
“Law enforcement used maximally invasive, constitutionally suspect surveillance in order to investigate what was really nothing more than a run-of-the-mill misdemeanor,” the attorneys wrote.
Kraft, 77, was charged in February with paying for sex acts at the spa twice in January – hours before the Patriots were set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Kraft pleaded not guilty but apologized for disappointing his family, friends, co-workers and fans.
About 300 other men have been similarly charged in the sting operation.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office hasn’t commented on Kraft’s attorneys’ allegations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.