Robert Kraft has been offered a plea deal on charges of soliciting prostitution. There are a lot of angry comments suggesting this is somehow a sweetheart deal for Kraft because he’s rich and famous. Here are two examples:
They’re wrong. Aronberg, a Democrat in a Democratic county, is not doing Republican Trump any favors. And for those who think the Patriots owner is getting a break because of football, this is Dolphins territory.
Kraft is not getting a sweetheart deal. He’s getting screwed because he’s rich and famous. A high-profile arrest of a celebrity is often treated by prosecutors like Dave Aronberg as an opportunity to grandstand. The average Joe often gets off lightly because there’s no publicity value in going after them and if prosecutors were this aggressive on every case it would be too much work and would clog the court system.
I’ll get to the details of Kraft’s case shortly, but the best example I can think of in the past was Giants wide receiver and SuperBowl hero Plaxico Burress. As a Giants fan I have to include this video on the off chance any Patriots fans are reading this.
He accidentally shot himself in NYC and was prosecuted for criminal possession of a handgun.
As a NY defense lawyer I represented many people for criminal possession of a handgun. Not one of them did any jail time. The typical deal was a reduction to a non-criminal violation and a fine. In some cases they’d be able to get the gun back.
Burress was targeted by anti-gun NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and ultimately got a 2-year prison sentence.
Something similar is happening with Kraft, though fortunately Kraft faces nowhere near the same potential penalty.
According to NBC News:
Kraft … would have [the] charges dropped in exchange for … conceding that [he] would have been found guilty, completing 100 hours of community service per charge, taking an education course on prostitution, undergoing a screening for sexually transmitted diseases, and paying $5,000 per charge.
$5000? The maximum fine for the offense is $1000, maybe $2000 since they charged him with two counts. While the offense carries a potential penalty of a year in jail, that never happens on a first offense misdemeanor like this. We rarely see any jail time for repeat offenders on low-level felonies. So why would Kraft have to pay $5000 per charge?
Of course Kraft is a billionaire so paying $5000 or $10,000 is nothing if it makes the case go away.
Just for comparison we looked at some recent cases we have seen in Palm Beach County. First of all it’s rare to see men charged with the first degree misdemeanor as Kraft is here. Usually they are charged with a second degree misdemeanor which has a lower fine.
The first degree offense may fit, but we often see regular people charged at a lower level. It’s common for repeat suspended drivers to keep getting charged at the misdemeanor level even after the third offense which makes it a felony. A few years ago we reported on Aronberg going easy on suspended drivers.
Here’s an example of a deferred prosecution agreement that was reached for one of the Johns arrested in the 2014 prostitution sting we covered.
He faced the same charge Kraft faces. He had a minor criminal history (driving while suspended). He paid $50 cost of prosecution. No fine. No $5000 charge. The charge against him was dropped – “Nolle Prosse”. Notice that the community service box is not checked off. He did have to do the PIPE class – Prostitution Impact Prevention Education – that is mentioned for Kraft. No jail. No probation.
Another man arrested in that 2014 sting had a similar result:
Same charge. Same $50 cost of prosecution. This guy had to also do STD testing and there’s a note about “no new crimes/offenses.” Same nolle prosse. You can see that 10 hours of community service was on the form but crossed out. 10 hours, not 100, and that was dropped. No jail. No probation.
In a more recent case, a defendant we covered was arrested this January for falsely reporting about a crash. He denied being the driver. This is a crime of dishonesty. It can really matter for insurance and for persons who may have been harmed or for property damage. It’s a second degree misdemeanor.
He got pretrial diversion and paid $100 for “cost of prosecution.” That’s it. Another average Joe got off easy.
So for all those who think Kraft is getting a deal, it’s a raw deal.
What I hope happens in this case is Kraft’s attorney resolves it with the judge, who should wisely disregard Aronberg’s nonsense. Kraft could plead “No Contest”, get a “withhold adjudication” (so it’s not officially a conviction) and pay a fine of perhaps $500 or $1000 plus some costs.
On the lighter side of this story, the arrest reports indicate that Kraft was charged for two incidents one day and then the next. On day one he showed up at the massage parlor driving a “2014 White Bentley.” The next day he showed up in a “2015 blue Bentley.”
So he has two Bentleys, or more than two, in Florida. A Bentley typically costs $300,000 or more. He lives in Boston. Does have more Bentleys in Massachusetts? Does he have them trucked down for season? This gives you some idea how much money a billionaire has. Kraft has a reported net worth of $6.6 billion.