New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution
Robert Kraft, one of the most powerful figures in US sport, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution.
Mr Kraft, the owner of Super Bowl winners New England Patriots, is one of 25 people facing similar charges following a lengthy investigation into human trafficking and money laundering across Florida.
The 77-year-old sports magnate could, in theory, face a year in jail if convicted. However, announcing the misdemeanour charges, Palm Beach County state attorney Dave Aronberg said a custodial sentence was unlikely for a first time offender.
Those convicted also face a mandatory $5,000 fine and being required to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.
A spokesman for Mr Kraft said that he categorically denies the charges.
Given that the charges have been classified as a misdemeanour, Mr Kraft will be able to send a lawyer to represent him rather than making a personal court appearance at the hearing which is scheduled for April 24.
It is alleged that police surveillance videos filmed Mr Kraft making two visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
The spa was one of several strip mall massage parlours targeted by police across Florida in a crackdown on human trafficking.
"These cases aren't about any one defendant or any group of defendants," added Mr Aronberg.
"The larger picture which we must all confront is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are, themselves, victims, often lured into this country with promises of a better life only to be forced to live and work in a sweatshop or a brothel, performing sex acts for strangers."
Mr Kraft, who has a net worth estimated at $6.6 billion, could face sanctions from the NFL, with a spokesman saying its code of conduct applied equally to everybody involved with the league.