Kraft Getting Shaft

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.

Tom Brady Is a Scapegoat: They All Cheat

Tom Brady 2011
By Jeffrey Beall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The current obsession with alleged cheating by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is just another example of scapegoating. Did they cheat? Sure, they probably did. But cheating is commonplace in sports. It’s part of the culture. They all cheat.
Cheating has been an issue in sports for decades. You can read books about it, such as Crooked: A History of Cheating in Sports and Foul Play: The Dark Arts of Cheating in Sport, for example. It’s all over the internet – see this LA Times column.
It’s part of the culture of sports. You can see it in any game. Watch a basketball game, for example, and you’ll hear an announcer say: “That was a good foul.” That’s an oxymoron. A foul is a bad thing, so how can there be a good one?
The idea of the good foul is one version of how sports have become tainted by a culture of cheating. Sure tactically it may make sense to foul a bad free throw shooter, but it violates the spirit of the rules. Fouls are a bad thing. We shouldn’t cheer on people who do it.
Here’s another – one of Michael Jordan’s greatest moments. Watch this play and in particular watch Jordan’s left hand on the defender, 5 seconds into the clip:

He cheated. Jordan pushed off with the left hand and he got away with it. This is in an official NBA video of the 60 greatest playoff moments. They’re glorifying cheating.
Here’s another one – the Pacer’s Reggie Miller pushes Knick guard Greg Anthony down to the floor, and then intercepts a pass, leading to another score. But he got away with it. Another great moment in NBA history?

Disclosure – The author was a New York Knicks fan (now a Heat fan but with some residual love for the Knicks), is still a NY Giants and Miami Dolphins fan, and a Mets/Marlins fan. Yes, that Reggie Miller play still burns.

We’re seeing a lot of scapegoats lately. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice are NFL scapegoats for domestic violence. The punishments those two have faced from the league are far beyond what should have happened under rules and precedent. But when the media shined a spotlight on those stories, the NFL overreacted to make it look as if they actually care about the underlying issue. They don’t. They care about public relations and the bottom line.
Let’s compare what happens when the media doesn’t make something a big issue. Back in the summer of 2013 two executives from the Denver Broncos were arrested for DUI.

Heckert and Russell
Heckert and Russell

Both received minimal suspensions. Matt Russell got a 7-month jail sentence. But he only got a 60-day suspension, and Tom Heckert only got a 30-day suspension. Both are still with the Broncos. Neither Peterson nor Rice did any jail time. But Rice was terminated by the Ravens and missed the entire season due to an NFL “indefinite suspension,” even though an arbitrator later overturned his suspension. Similarly Peterson missed all but one game of the 2014 season on an indefinite suspension that was overturned. Peterson is unlikely to return to the Vikings.
Another of the big scapegoats is Alex Rodriguez. Did A-Rod use performance enhancing drugs? Probably. But that’s been common in professional sports for a while now. Sure the leagues say they want to stop it, but at the same time they’re happy to make billions off the athletic performances. While so many athletes pretend to be apologetic and beg for mercy, A-Rod has the balls to stand up for himself and fight for his fair share of the billion-plus he’s made his team and MLB. Let’s face it – he’s being treated as an uppity negro.
Now look at Derek Jeter, who has been lauded for “doing it the right way.” Yeah, by cheating. He was caught cheating back in 2010, pretending he was hit by a pitch and even feigning injury. He got away with it and was even applauded by the other team’s manager:

Jeter, who stood doubled over while receiving attention from a trainer, confessed that the ball hit the end of his bat and he sold the call to Barksdale with a good acting job.
”He told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know,” Jeter said.
”It’s part of the game. My job is to get on base. Fortunately for us it paid off at the time, but I’m sure it would have been a bigger story if we would have won that game.”
Maddon disliked the call but didn’t fault Jeter.
”If our guys had did it, I would have applauded that. It’s a great peformance on his part,” the Tampa Bay manager said. ”Several players are very good at that. And again, I’m not denigrating it. If our guy does it, I’m very happy with that if we end up getting the call. … Fortunately it didn’t cost us.”

When I was much younger I played basketball. I remember being taught how to cheat. Block out with your arms up, not low. You’re less likely to be called for a foul. Reach in with both hands instead of one and you’re less likely to get a foul. Several years ago I played in a charity golf event and we had a former NFL player in our foursome. I’ve never seen anyone cheat so much. They all cheat. There’s a culture of cheating in sports.
As for Brady and the Patriots, the game is over. The Pats beat the Colts 45-7. The balls didn’t matter that much. If anything should come of the incident, the NFL should accept its own responsibility and take custody of the game balls. But it’s far easier to point the finger at Brady and make him a scapegoat.