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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A judge granted a state attorney’s request Tuesday to stop the clock on a possible trial for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft while prosecutors appeal a decision that threw out “crucial evidence” against the part-time Palm Beach resident.
That evidence centers on two videos police say show Kraft paying for sex during two visits in January to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter. County Judge Leonard Hanser suppressed the videos and other evidence gained through a “sneak and peek” search warrant. Prosecutors are seeking to have his ruling overturned.
On Tuesday, Hanser agreed to allow the case to run through the appeals process before it goes to trial. Adjudicating the case now without benefit of the suppressed evidence “is contrary to the interests of justice” according to the state’s motion.
The Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach is expected to hear the state’s appeal.
Hanser’s stay order puts the case on hold indefinitely and could mean it’s not resolved until after the 2019 NFL begins Sept. 5. The Patriots open their defense of their Super Bowl title Sept. 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kraft could be subject to disciplinary action by the NFL under the league’s personal conduct policy even if he isn’t found guilty of a crime in the Jupiter case. He has pleaded not guilty.
In a related case, Circuit Judge Joseph Marx on Monday suppressed videos allegedly showing four women engaged in prostitution-related crimes at Orchids of Asia. Prosecutors indicated after the decision that they would also appeal Marx’s ruling.
Kraft, 77, is one of 25 men charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, at the Jupiter spa. The charges came after a monthslong investigation that authorities initially said was linked to human trafficking. No one has been charged with trafficking in an investigation that spanned four counties. The other counties were Martin, Indian River and Orange.