A new report suggests that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft may not be the biggest name involved in a prostitution sting in Florida.
Kraft, 77, was one of the dozens charged in the sting on Friday, but other warrants are expected in the case, and ESPN reporter Adam Schefter believes a ‘bigger name’ may be charged.
‘I’m also told that Robert Kraft is not the biggest name involved down there in South Florida,’ Schefter said on the network.
Jupiter, Florida, where the sting centered, is home to many celebrities and legendary retired athletes, including some of the most recognizable names in PGA Tour and NBA history.
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Robert Kraft, 77, (above) was one of the dozens charged in the sting on Friday, but other warrants are expected and there are reports an even bigger name might be charged
People mill around in front of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa on Friday. Police charging documents allege the business provided ‘rub and tug’ services
At a press conference on Friday, Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said that no one more prominent than Kraft had been charged in the case. But he also said that the investigation was ongoing, and additional arrests are possible.
The possibility of more high-profile arrests followed the bombshell allegation that the billionaire Kraft had been caught on police surveillance cameras receiving sexual services at a strip mall massage parlor.
The 77-year-old was charged with paying for sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida on two occasions. He has not been arrested, according to police, but a misdemeanor warrant has been issued.
Through a spokesperson, Kraft has denied the allegations: ‘We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.’
Under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Kraft could face league penalties. The policy not only applies to owners, but holds them to a stricter standard.
According to the policy, ‘ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.’
In 2014, Jim Irsay, the owner of the Colts, was suspended for six games and fined $500,000 after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated on prescription opioid.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa that is allegedly tied to an international human trafficking ring, police said Friday. On February 3 his Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl. He attended the game with girlfriend Ricki Noel Lander (pictured)
Florida’s southeastern coast is inhabited by many high-profile residents, including Kraft
Charging documents in the prostitution ring case indicate that police built their case based in part on reviews of Orchids of Asia on a website called ‘RubMaps.com,’ which investigators describe as a ‘forum based website which allows customers … to discuss their individual experiences at illicit massage parlors.’
Jupiter Police Detective Andrew Sharp wrote in an arrest warrant that reviews indicated that Orchids was a ‘rub and tug’ massage parlor, referring to the ‘slang term which identifies a business as providing sexual services, specifically manually manipulating the male genitals until the point of climax.’
‘Under the name Orchids of Asia Day Spa, several posting were located from February 2015 to March 2018. The postings detailed visits involving Asian females providing sexual acts, as well as massage/body rubs in exchange for payment,’ Sharp wrote.
‘The majority of the posts advised the female employee would provide the male client with a ‘hand job,” Sharp wrote.
The spa was one of 10 that were reportedly shut down in Florida after a seven-month investigation found women in ‘sexual servitude,’ according to arrest records. About 200 arrest warrants have been issued in recent days and more are expected.
According to Martin County Sheriff Will Snyder, women were forced to live in the spa and were prevented from leaving. Many of the women, Snyder explained, came from China.
Kraft is one of 25 men being specifically charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution, according to Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr.
The Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta.
Robert Kraft’s wife Myra (near right) died from cancer in 2011 at 68. In 2012, it was revealed that Kraft was dating actress and model Ricki Noel Lander (left), 39. Lander did give birth to a child in 2017, and while there was speculation it was his, Kraft has denied being the father following the child’s birth in 2018. The two were seen together at the Super Bowl
The Orchids of Asia Day Spa’s owner, 58-year-old Hua Zhang, was arrested and charged with 26 counts of procuring prostitution. Kraft allegedly engaged in two criminal acts at the spa
A sign is posted outside of Orchids of Asia Day Spa, Friday, February 22,2019 in Florida. Jupiter police have charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution. Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said Friday, that he was shocked to learn Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was paying for sex inside a strip-mall massage parlor
A camera man films the Orchids of Asia Day Spa after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged with allegedly soliciting for sex on February 22, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. Mr. Kraft was caught up in a law enforcement operation in South Florida that netted hundreds of johns over the past two weeks
The NFL did not immediately respond to a message Friday seeking comment. Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL.
‘Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of Personal Conduct Policy occur,’ the policy says.
Kraft’s wife Myra died from cancer in 2011 at age 68. The two were married in 1963 and had four children together.
In 2012, it was revealed that Kraft was dating actress and model Ricki Noel Lander, 39.
Lander did give birth to a child in 2017, and while there was speculation it was his, Kraft has denied being the father.
The two attended Super Bowl LIII together on February 3 in Atlanta.
Kraft and his sons are active philanthropists, having reportedly donated over $100 million to several different causes.
He is also the recipient of the 2019 Genesis Prize from Israel, which has been described as the ‘Jewish Nobel’ prize.
Kraft, the head of a holding company, bought the Patriots in 1994 for $172 million. Since then the franchise has been to 10 Super Bowls, winning six, most recently in on February 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
He is reportedly worth $6.6 billion, according to Forbes.com, and does own property in Palm Beach. In addition to the Patriots, Kraft also owns the team’s field, Gillette Stadium, and the MLS’s New England Revolution.
Kraft has a lease in the famed Breakers resort in Palm Beach, which is near President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate. He owns a double apartment at 1. North Breakers Row in Palm Bleach, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
Lanyun Ma (left), 49, of Orlando was charged with human trafficking, unlawful transportation for the purpose of prostitution, racketeering and engaging in prostitution. Junhua Dong (right), 50, of Vero Beach is charged with racketeering, engaging in prostitution, and deriving support from proceeds of prostitution
Yan Xu (left), 51, of Sebastian was charged with deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, engaging in prostitution and racketeering. Yaping Ren (right), 27, of Orlando was charged with engaging in prostitution, racketeering, and deriving support from prostitutio
Kenneth Zullo (left), 64, of Sebastian was charged with racketeering. Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr (right) announced Friday that Kraft was being charged with solicitation
The 77-year-old Kraft was charged with paying for sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. He has not been arrested, according to police
In September, an undercover Vero Beach detective recorded several alleged crimes at one spa. In each instance, the masseuse allegedly offered sexual favors, ranging from $200 for intercourse to $100 for oral sex and hand stimulation for as low as $40, according to TCPalm.com.
Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey explained the conditions to reporters Thursday.
‘These girls are there all day long, into the evening. They can’t leave and they’re performing sex acts,’ Currey said. ‘Some of them may tell us they’re OK, but they’re not. We know that… even though we may have charges on some of them, we’d rather them be victims.’
The spa’s owner, 58-year-old Hua Zhang, was arrested and charged with 26 counts of procuring prostitution.
Six other ‘major players’ were arrested as part of the prostitution and human trafficking ring. Lanyun Ma, Liyan Zhang, Junhua Dong, Yan Xu, Kenneth Zullo, and Yaping Ren were charged with crimes such as prostitution, racketeering and deriving support from prostitution.
SIX ‘MAJOR PLAYERS’ CHARGED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION RING
- Lanyun Ma, 49, of Orlando was charged with human trafficking, unlawful transportation for the purpose of prostitution, racketeering and engaging in prostitution (Bail set at $155,500)
- Liyan Zhang, 41, of Pompano Beach was charged with operating a house of prostitution and 30 counts of engaging in prostitution (Bail set at $115,500)
- Junhua Dong, 50, of Vero Beach is charged with racketeering, engaging in prostitution, and deriving support from proceeds of prostitution (Bail set at $250,000)
- Yan Xu, 51, of Sebastian was charged with deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, engaging in prostitution and racketeering (Bail set at 150,500)
- Kenneth Zullo, 64, of Sebastian was charged with racketeering (Bail set at $100,000)
- Yaping Ren, 27, of Orlando was charged with engaging in prostitution, racketeering, and deriving support from prostitution
Their bails were set for anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000.
According to WPTV, about 200 people face charges of soliciting prostitution in Indian River County Florida.
‘As of this morning we’ve issued 171 arrest warrants, the sheriff’s office has processed those. And we have arrested 45 individuals,’ Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said Thursday.
According to Loar, staff at the East Sea Spa on U.S. 1 was not allowed to exit.
‘Clearly our focus is on the human trafficking, the sex trafficking,’ he said.
‘These johns either knowingly or not knowingly were certainly supplying the funds to perpetuate human trafficking,’ Loar continued. ‘We also know that staff at times was not allowed to leave the spa in other words they were living in the spa.’
Local police had received tips, prompting investigators to conduct an undercover surveillance operation over the course of several months.
Now dozens of johns are facing charges.
‘These are fathers, uncles and sons and family members of others,’ Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said.
Orlando’s Yongzhang Yan owns the Vero Beach spa and AA Massage in Sebastian, as well as the Winter Park and Orlando Spas. According to police, his wife, Lanyun Ma, was in charge of the day-to-day operations at Vero Beach, TCPalm.com reported.
Police allegedly observed the couple transporting multiple women to and from the spa ‘for the purpose of sexual servitude,’ Ma’s arrest warrant reads.
Ma was also allegedly seen purchasing condoms.
Some of the women – many of who came from China on work visas – were forced to stay for days at a time, while others did not leave for months, according to police.
‘Some of them are trying to make a better life for themselves,’ Currey said. ‘These people truly are stuck.’
Some of the women were allegedly conned into believing they were taking legitimate jobs, while others believed they were becoming real masseurs, but were later asked to engage in illegal activities.
Kenneth Zullo, 64, was seen transporting the women between spas and other locations, including the airport, according to his arrest warrant. Police reportedly had a tracking device on his car.
The investigation was launched in October following a health department complaint at East Sea Spa in Sebastian, Florida. An employee reported seeing clothing, bedding, suitcases, and other signs that people were living in the spa, which is owned and managed by Liyan Zhang, who was arrested and charged with 30 counts of prostitution.
Zhang had $22,000 cash in her purse, Loar told reporters. He estimates the business made over $1 million annually.
Beginning in December, police began stopping men after they paid for sex acts at the spa.
Police say they observed 140 sex acts performed for money.
Mark McGuire, a N.Y. Giants football fan, stands near the front door of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged with allegedly soliciting for sex on February 22, 2019 in Jupiter, Florida. Mr. Kraft was caught up in a law enforcement operation in South Florida that netted hundreds of johns over the past two weeks
Robert and Myra Kraft pictured after donating $20 million to Partners HealthCare. She passed away in 2011 at the age of 68. The couple had four children together
Robert Kraft and Ricki Noel Lander kiss at a Lakers game in 2016
Kraft has drawn criticism in recent years for his support of President Donald Trump, who also has a residence in Palm Beach, Florida.
Beyond donating to Trump’s inaugural fund, Kraft has also been a public support and friend of Trump.
Before the Super Bowl on February 3, Trump told ‘Face the Nation’ that he would be supporting his ‘friend and longtime supporter,’ Kraft.
Most people charged for the first time for soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion program, said attorney David Weinstein, a former prosecutor. Kraft would have to perform 100 hours of community service and pay to attend an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.
Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company, was a Patriots season ticket owner when he purchased the team’s previous stadium during in 1988.
He hired Bill Belichick to be his coach in 2000 and the team subsequently drafted quarterback Tom Brady, launching their nearly two decades of success.
Kraft recently credited Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with helping him through the painful days following his wife Myra’s death
Under Kraft, the Patriots have been the most successful team in pro sports, having made it to 10 Super Bowls, winning six, including this year against the Los Angeles Rams.
But there also have been issues involving team actions under Belichick.
In 2007, the Patriots were caught filming signals from New York Jets coaches; New England was suspected of doing so against other teams, as well, and that was confirmed later on. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots $250,000 and stripped them of their 2008 first-round draft pick. Belichick was fined $500,000, the most an NFL coach ever was fined.
In the 2014 AFC championship game, the team – specifically, star quarterback Tom Brady – was accused by the Indianapolis Colts of doctoring footballs.
The NFL concluded that Patriots employees were involved in deflating the footballs and Brady was ‘at least generally aware’ it was being done. After lengthy legal battles, Brady served a four-game suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season and the Patriots were fined $1 million – the heftiest for a team in league history. New England was stripped of a first-round and a fourth-round draft choice.
Neither Kraft nor Belichick were implicated after the investigation.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft (right), and his wife Myra (left), walk the sidelines at Gillette Stadium prior to the kickoff of the New England-Kansas City game. She passed away in 2011
People walk around in front of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft being charged with allegedly soliciting for sex
Fans had a wide range of reactions to the arrest.
Some Patriots supporters were shocked, others were disappointed, and some were even understanding that the 77-year-old widower could have committed the crime.
‘He’s single,’ one woman told Boston’s NBC affiliate. ‘It’s not like he’s married. A man of influence such as Bob Kraft, or any man for that matter, if that’s what they wish to pursue, it’s a free country.’
Another fan outside of the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium told the station she would reserve judgement until all the facts are in.
‘I think that we’re all innocent until proven guilty, so that’s what I think,’ the fan said. ‘If it’s true, it’s disappointing, but that’s business and that’s what the courts are for and police. It just hit the news, but I don’t know, man.’
Other fans were not so patient.
‘Dang, it’s horrible,’ one fan told the station.
But while some Patriots supporters have reason for concern, others seemed to celebrate Kraft’s legal problems.
Mark McGuire, a N.Y. Giants football fan, stands near the front door of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged with allegedly soliciting for sex
People, including some Patriots fans, were seen taking their picture in front of the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
One New York Giants fan named Mark McGuire was posed with a Giants t-shirt while pointing and laughing at the establishment, which has been shuttered.
Others shared their joy on social media.
One Twitter account promised a picture of ‘Kraft’s prostitute,’ only to attach an edited picture of Tom Brady in which the New England Patriots quarterback is made to look like a woman in makeup.
Comedian Nick Jack Pappas referenced Kraft’s six Super Bowl rings and his one ‘prostitution ring.’
Barstool Sports offered a ‘Free Kraft’ T-shirt.
Another Twitter wrote that Robert Kraft ‘will now be replaced by Christopher Plummer,’ which is a reference to actor Kevin Spacey’s legal troubles. (Spacey was replaced in a film by Plummer after accusations against him came to light in 2017)
One fan tweeted a meme featuring a picture of Tom Brady holding up five of his soon-to-be six Super Bowl rings with the caption, ‘The second most expensive hand Robert Kraft has ever paid for.’
FANS REACT TO ROBERT KRAFT
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a Florida spa, which prompted scores of football fans to share their reactions on social media
Multiple users posted photoshopped photos of Tom Brady and jokingly insinuated that he was the ‘masseuse’