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Judges question legality of search warrants in Robert Kraft’s prostitution case



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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida appeals judges on Tuesday questioned the legality of the search warrants that allowed police to secretly videotape New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and others who paid for sex. in a massage parlor, pressuring a prosecutor for his claim that the orders were legally valid.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey DeSousa was repeatedly questioned by the three-judge panel as he tried to persuade them that search warrants and searches complied with all constitutional protections and that they should overturn lower court decisions that impeded the use of the recordings. at the trial.

The misdemeanor charges against Kraft, 79, and other customers would have to be dropped if those judgments are valid, although the felony charges against the spa owners could proceed as there is other evidence against them.

Kraft and others were indicted in February 2019 in a multi-county massage parlor investigation that included the secret installation of video cameras in the lobbies and spa rooms. Police say the recordings show that Kraft and other men engage in sexual acts with women and pay them.

Police say Kraft, a widower, who paid for sex in the Asian Orchid massage parlor, was recorded twice. Kraft pleaded not guilty, but issued a public apology.

Judge Robert Gross, who chaired the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeals hearing, seemed puzzled by DeSousa’s claim that he and his colleagues should primarily consider the plain language of the Fourth Amendment. It says judges can issue arrest warrants if the police demonstrate the probable cause of a crime, that arrest warrants must specify where to search and what can be seized.

Gross told DeSousa that he seemed to ignore numerous US Supreme Court rulings that extended Fourth Amendment protections since the 1960s, including some that restrict electronic surveillance by police.

“It is taking away from us the good way by focusing on the language of the Fourth Amendment when we should focus on the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court … that is very important to you,” Gross told DeSousa.

The 90-minute hearing included arguments about whether the cameras were necessary; on whether the police violated the privacy of clients who simply received massages; and on the appropriate sanction if the rights of the accused were violated.

Kraft’s attorneys and the other defendants argued that the police did not minimize the privacy violations they committed by registering innocent clients, including women, who received legal massage.

“These cameras, which were placed in private massage rooms where clients undressed naturally, recorded everything,” said Kraft attorney Derek Shaffer. He said Kraft “had the same reasonable expectation of privacy that any massage client going to a licensed facility would be entitled to.”

The attorneys also argued that the cameras were not necessary as the police already had enough evidence to charge the spa owners, including bank records, website advertising, external video surveillance, and napkins containing body fluids recovered from the dumpsters. .

They argued that the only appropriate punishment for prosecutors and the police is to throw away all the recordings.

The main entrance to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
The main entrance to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.AP

DeSousa argued that the police and prosecutors need the recording to convict the owners of serious crimes. Homeowners must be shown that they receive payments from prostitutes and the only way to get it is to install cameras, he said.

He said detectives had to fully record all of the massages, because the sexual acts occurred at its conclusion and 95% of male clients received one. While no female client paid for sex, they were few and not registering them could be considered discriminatory against men, she said.

DeSousa said that even if the court finds that the police violated the privacy rights of innocent clients, the Supreme Court has ruled that, in most cases, only evidence seized incorrectly should be discarded. Since Kraft, the other men, and the masseurs were involved in crimes, their recordings should be allowed, he said.

Given the unique and difficult circumstances these officers face, the conspiracy, the logistics of the operation, what they reasonably anticipated they would see, and the difficulty of knowing at the start of any given massage, this will end with a happy ending or it won’t be, we believe. that what the police did here was completely reasonable, “DeSousa said.

The court usually takes weeks to issue judgments. The losing side will likely go to the state Supreme Court, which could either accept the case or let the decision remain.

If convicted, Kraft would likely receive a fine, community service, and other penalties, but could also be suspended or punished by the National Football League.


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Italy denies entry to private jet with Americans on vacation



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An air cargo of wealthy Americans was denied entry to Italy after trying to sneak into the country for a vacation on a private plane.

Travelers from the US are banned from entering the European Union for at least another two weeks after an increase in coronavirus cases in some reopened states, European officials announced last week.

There were 10 people on board, five of whom were Americans, when the plane that had flown in from Colorado was stopped by customs officials at Elmas airport in Cagliari, Italy, according to reports. While the Americans were told they must be “repatriated” immediately, the other passengers, from Italy, New Zealand and England, were offered to stay after a mandatory two-week quarantine. All the passengers left “out of solidarity,” according to the Wanted in Rome site.

“The Sardinian region has no responsibility for what happened,” Sardinian Governor Christian Solinas told the news site. “Immediately, with the collaboration of the airport management company, we got to work, initiating urgent talks with the government, the Ministry and the Prefect, to find a solution that would allow American passengers to remain in Sardinia, even undergoing quarantine. . … The singular restrictive interpretation of the regulations by the government, contrary to our ability to guarantee health security, in this case has once again inflicted serious damage to the credibility of international tourism on our island and to our sense of hospitality. “

Passengers arrive at the Cagliari-Elmas airport in Cagliari, Italy.
Passengers arrive at the Cagliari-Elmas airport in Cagliari, Italy.EPA

This is not the first time that wealthy people have tried to ignore the rules. In April, a private jet laden with international jet sets was sent home after ignoring quarantine rules and secretly flying to southern France for a vacation.


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Senator Menendez blocks compensation to families of al-Qaeda-bombed American victims



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The daughter of a diplomat who lost her father and younger brother in the 1998 US Embassy terror attack in Kenya is furious with New Jersey Senator Bob Menéndez for preventing her and others from receiving millions. in victim compensation money.

Edith Bartley called Menendez’s actions a “parody” in the aftermath of the murder of her Queens-born father, Julian Bartley, the first African-American Consul General in Nairobi and the highest-ranking US diplomat killed in the attack.

He also claimed his brother, Jay, 20, who was doing a summer internship at the embassy.

Menendez has so far blocked a $ 300 million deal in which Sudan, which acted as the scene of the explosion and another bomb in Tanzania, would pay the families of the 12 Americans who killed $ 10 million each, while foreigners who they worked at the embassy they would get only $ 800,000.

“It would be a parody for any member to block the passage of this deal on compensation levels,” Bartley wrote in a June 4 letter to the powerful Democrat.

Menendez, the highest-ranking member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Post that he was concerned that the deal “simply does not do justice to the many victims who worked at US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in some cases for decades, and that they are now US citizens. “

He added: “We must be sure that the United States reaches the best possible agreement for every American family affected by these horrible terrorist attacks.”

Spectators stand at the foot of damaged buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, after a large explosion tore apart a building in the Kenyan capital in 1998, heavily destroying the United States Embassy.
Spectators stand at the foot of damaged buildings in Nairobi, Kenya, after a large explosion tore apart a building in the Kenyan capital in 1998, heavily destroying the United States Embassy.AP

A total of 224 people died in the coordinated bombings on August 7, 1998 in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and more than 4,000 people were injured.

The U.S. Sudan Accord has bipartisan support in Congress, and the Senate is reviewing it and is expected to vote on the issue in the coming days.

For Bartley, the fight is deeply personal.

“My whole world stopped and was never the same from that moment on,” said Bartley, who was a law student at the University of Missouri at the time. “I felt so helpless when I heard what happened … because I couldn’t protect my little brother. I had to do something.”

He decided to use his law studies to help his family and others obtain justice.

Bartley now acts as a spokesperson for the families of the Americans killed in Nairobi and has worked on legislation that would add impact statements to federal lawsuits against terrorists and their sponsors.

If the deal is approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sudan, which toppled its military dictator last year, will be removed from the US list of terrorist sponsors and will no longer be subject to sanctions.


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Yoko Ono’s health is on the decline, confined to Dakota’s apartment



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Three years ago, when the National Association of Music Editors presented Yoko Ono with her Centennial Song Award, Sean Lennon pushed his mother onto the stage at 42 Cipriani Street in a wheelchair, surprising some who didn’t they realized that the formidable avant-garde artist was incapacitated

But with her signature shades, black leather jacket, and white Panama hat, John Lennon’s widow did not seem to miss a beat when she began a brief acceptance speech addressing the elephant in the room.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, clutching the award in one hand and a microphone in the other as Sean whispered to her what was happening. “I learned a lot from this disease. I am thankful that I went through that.”

While it is unclear what “illness” he was referring to, Ono, now 87, is still ill, requires 24-hour care and rarely leaves his large apartment in Dakota, a source close to his staff told The Post. In photos taken at rare public appearances, including a women’s march at Columbus Circle last year and at a commemoration of John in Liverpool in May 2018, Ono is confined to a wheelchair or walks with great difficulty using a cane, to often supported by a caregiver or Sean for support.

It has also been selling some real estate assets in recent years.

“It has definitely slowed down, like anyone at that age,” said Elliot Mintz, a close family friend who has known Ono for almost 50 years, and has acted as a spokesperson for the family, representing John Lennon’s heritage since the murder of the former Beatle in December 1980. “But she is as sharp as she was before.”

John Lennon and his artist wife Yoko Ono in 1969.
John Lennon and his artist wife Yoko Ono in 1969.fake pictures

Mintz told The Post that he last saw Ono at his 87th birthday party in February. He was one of over 30 guests, including Rolling Stone magazine co-founder Jann Wenner, singer Cyndi Lauper, and Ono’s daughter Kyoko, 56, from her previous marriage to John with film producer Anthony Cox. .

Two years after their divorce in 1971, Cox fled with Kyoko and raised her in Christian fundamentalist communes. Ono fought for years for Kyoko, who began communicating with her mother after John’s murder. According to Mintz, Ono is now very close to Kyoko and Sean, her 44-year-old son with Lennon.

“Sean is his best friend,” said Mintz. “They dine two or three times a week, and he occasionally brings out his mother as a guest star in his band.”

Sean hosts Ono’s birthday party every year, meticulously obsessing over decorations and flower arrangements, Mintz said. In February, he took over Bar Wayo at the South Street Seaport for the party, where guests celebrated with champagne. In previous years, Sean and Ono have taken the stage to perform.

But this year, the celebration was more discreet. “She put out the candles with Sean and was one of the last to leave,” Mintz told the Post. “She was in a good mood. I helped her into her wheelchair and gently helped her into her car. “

Mintz declined to comment on Ono’s personal medical history. “She is a particularly special being,” he said. “In these 87 years, she has lived 400.”

Yoko Ono was born in 1933 to a Tokyo banking family whose fortune suffered during World War II. The family faced starvation and were often forced to trade household items for food while seeking refuge from Allied bombing.

Despite wartime hardships, Ono inherited his family’s business acumen. In addition to becoming a cutting-edge artist who once opened her show at MoMA yelling into a microphone, she is also a hard-nosed businesswoman, a prodigious real estate investor who, after her marriage to John in 1969, began to accumulate a mini property empire that spanned New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Hamptons, Palm Beach, Ireland and England. He has also compiled a considerable art collection that includes works by his old friend Andy Warhol.

Today, Ono has reported assets of $ 700 million. He still owns multi-million dollar properties in Manhattan, as well as hundreds of acres in northern Delaware County, public records show. She lives in the same nine-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of The Dakota, which she once shared with John. It also maintains an adjacent unit in the West 72nd Street building for visitors, and two small one-bedroom spaces without kitchens that it uses for staff, a source told The Post. And she has a first-floor office that was once used by John as a recording studio.

“He got up early every morning, went down to the study, and ran the family business, which allowed John to be a stay at home mom,” Mintz said, adding that John had no real business sense, and that he often needed his help to discover as much as possible. mundane financial matters, such as how much to tip a waiter when paying for a meal in a restaurant.

But Ono has been losing assets. In 2017, he sold a building at 110 W. 79th St. that he had owned since 1988. He purchased the property, which houses two residential units, for just under $ 500,000 and downloaded it for $ 6,450,000, according to public records. In 2013, he sold a 5,700-square-foot penthouse at 49-51 Downing St. in West Village, which Sean occupied for years, for $ 8.3 million.

Although Ono still owns more than 600 acres near Franklin, New York City, the locals say it’s been years since they saw her in the area where she used to vacation with Sean and groups of friends. John and Ono purchased the property and 100 Holstein cows to establish a breeding operation before Mark David Chapman shot him dead in front of Dakota on December 8, 1980.

“We haven’t seen it in a long time,” said Roland Greefkes, an iron craftsman who made a wrought iron gate for the Ono property. “I never met anyone like her. She is really something special. “

The directors of charities that she has always supported echo that sentiment. Although the charity that started with John, the Spirit Foundations, had contributions of just under $ 25,000 from it in 2018, Ono makes most of his charitable donations directly. At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in New York, she donated $ 250,000 to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, to support frontline healthcare workers.

“In these 87 years, she has lived 400.”

– Elliot Mintz about her friend Yoko Ono, who saw her family lose her fortune, they took a daughter from her and witnessed the murder of her husband, John Lennon.

“Montefiore was specifically chosen because Yoko wanted to help a hospital in a COVID-affected community that lacked the ability to reach out to wealthy donors and board members like Cornell, NYU, Mount Sinai and others in Manhattan,” he said. Mintz

He has also recently supported musicians he has worked with in the past who have fallen through hard times. He helped Stanley Bronstein, who played on his Plastic Ono Band, when he needed emergency medical attention, Mintz said.

But hunger is still his favorite cause. “I remember being hungry and I know it is very difficult to be hungry,” said Ono in a 2013 interview. “One day I did not bring a lunch box. The other children asked, don’t you want to eat? I just said, no, I am not hungry.” .

Ono recently donated $ 50,000 to the West Side Hunger Campaign, which during the pandemic has provided thousands of meals to needy and unemployed residents in their Upper West Side neighborhood. And he has a 30-year relationship with WhyHunger, a New York-based nonprofit organization that fights food deprivation worldwide.

Yoko Ono Changes New York City’s Property Portfolio

“She has been a true philanthropic partner,” Noreen Springstead, the group’s executive director, told The Post. “She is the most energetic, lively person and is very practical. She has been incredibly invested for over three decades. “

A few years ago, Ono allowed WhyHunger to license the lyrics and drawings of John’s song “Imagine” for a global campaign against hunger, helping the charity to raise almost

$ 7 million for his projects in New York and around the world, Springstead said.

And it was for “Imagine,” the 1971 utopian anthem, that Ono collected the Centennial Song Award for her late husband in 2017. While sitting in her wheelchair on stage, the hosts of the National Association of Music Editors the surprised with a second prize. , after playing an old audio clip of John saying that Ono should be credited as a co-writer on “Imagine”.

“That should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because so much of it, the lyrics and the concept, came from Yoko,” the former Beatle said in a voiceover. “But those days he was a little more selfish, a little more macho, and I omitted to mention his contribution.”

Ono smiled when Sean whispered the news to his mother.

“This is the best time of my life,” he told the audience.


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