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Kraft defense team won video ruling Monday in solicitation case

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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A huge victory, at least for now, has happened for Robert Kraft and his defense team against his solicitation of prostitution charges earlier this year in Palm Beach County.

Judge Robert Hanser ruled on Monday afternoon the video that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Jupiter Police Department, obtained in January at the “Orchids of Asia Day Spa” was obtained illegally and under false pretenses with the search warrant:

Kraft’s lawyers have contended to the court all along that police officials should not have been granted the far-reaching “sneak-and-peek search warrant” that exists in Florida to allow them to place cameras inside the day spa. That’s because, they say that law enforcement convinced the judge to give them that warrant under the pretense that human trafficking violations were going on, even though, there was not enough evidence to grant it.

The State Attorney in Palm Beach County countered, by saying until they put the cameras in, they could not verify exactly what was happening. And, that’s when they captured 25 men, including Kraft, in a four-day period visiting the day spa and engaging in various sexual acts with workers in private rooms there.

Kraft was alleged to have been surveilled on both Saturday January 20th and Sunday January 21st, as having paid for just such sex acts in a private room.

Prosecutors in the case do have the option to appeal Hanser’s ruling. However, if they are not successful, this all but eliminates their hope of getting a conviction on the solicitation charges

Prosecutors were also trying to use the video tape as leverage to get Kraft to plea-bargain to avoid jail time, more publicity of a trial, and further humiliation besides the reports of the video’s existence. Several of the other defendants who were videotaped, already accepted such a plea deal that avoided jail time and trials.

The final component that is still being argued is whether the videotape will still be released or not, anyway. This as, under Florida law that has been upheld by the Florida Supreme Court, evidence in any case (including a video) can be released to the media / public, even if, there hasn’t been a trial or a conviction.

Lawyers for national and local media outlets have argued that point to the judge back last month, and still await the ruling.

As we have written about repeatedly, the NFL could go ahead and make its own determination that Kraft violated the personal conduct policy, even without a criminal conviction against Kraft.

And, they have done so in recent cases involving Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who were both under investigation for inappropriate conduct, or in Elliot’s case domestic violence. Yet, neither was criminally charged, much less convicted. Still, both were suspended without pay under the NFL’s authority within the collective bargaining agreement.

Further, the NFL disciplined Colts owner Robert Irsay in 2014 by suspending him six games and finding him $500,000 after his DUI charges led to a guilty plea that year.

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Former Gators kicker Pineiro is Chicago hero- for now

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Every week in the NFL there are heroes in the clutch for different franchises. However, in a market like Chicago with the rabid, massive following like the Chicago Bears, when you do something dramatic to help them win everything is taken up to a new level.

That’s something that new kicker, and former Florida Gator Eddy Pineiro, is experiencing after his dramatic game-winning 53 yard field goal with no time left in Denver Sunday gave the Bears a 16-14 win.

First, it looked as though the Bears had blown the game when they allowed Denver’s Joe Flacco to lead a last-minute scoring drive that resulted in a dramatic touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders with :31 seconds left. And, then, the two hooked up on the go ahead two-point conversion to Sanders for 14 – 13 lead.

But undaunted, the Bears, led by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, got into scoring position on a 25-yard completion to the Broncos 25 to Allen Robinson with just :01 remaining.

That’s when Pineiro, who had kicked two lengthy field goals earlier in the game, stepped on the Mile High turf and calmly, with 80,000 Bronco fans going berserk, booted home a line drive game-winner to make the Bears 1 – 1.

As we wrote earlier this month, Pineiro, a second year player, had won the Bears kicking job coming out of preseason. Pineiro won the spot over Elliott Fry by hitting a 58-yard field goal against the Colts, followed by another 3-for-3 against the Titans in August.

And Gators fans will remember the Miami native having a good college career at Florida. He made 17/18 FG’s during the Gators miserable 2017 season. And combined with his 21/25 the year before, he totaled an 88% field goal career mark.

Pineiro declared for the 2018 NFL Draft after only two seasons with the Gators, but went undrafted. He signed as a free agent with the Oakland Raiders in May of 2018, however, he was placed on injured reserve last September. Earlier this summer, he was traded to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Finally, let’s keep in perspective that we are not talking Chicago icon status like: Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks and Patrick Kane have.

Still, it was a large moment early in his tenuous Bears kicking career and Pineiro is celebrating, like he should.

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Many state fans still without ACC Network

ESPN and the Atlantic Coast Conference launched the 24-hour ACC television network in the middle of last month. But for all of the fanfare and build up, there are still hundreds of thousands of football fans in the state of Florida who are without the channel headed into the first weekend of September.

And now, that’s about to be problematic with a scheduled Saturday triple-header of games that will involve FSU, the Miami Hurricanes and the USF Bull’s all being televised, exclusively on the channel.

Now, the ACC and ESPN announced Thursday night a deal with Cox Communications, which serves a good portion of the state and will obviously make their customers happy:

The ACC, led by Commissioner John Swofford (above),  also previously announced a deal with Spectrum Communications to carry the ACC Network. That is a significant amount of coverage in Florida.

And, the ACCN is also available through satellite services like DirecTV and Dish. Plus, it’s available on streaming services like Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV for individual fees.

However, while the ACC and ESPN continue to update new deals being done with providers, customers with Comcast / Xfinity, Frontier Communications and AT&T U-verse are still waiting for the channel. And, those outlets represent hundreds of thousands of college football fans in the combined markets of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee.

Fans in those markets with those providers already missed last Thursday night’s opener with #1 Clemson and Georgia Tech, were without last Saturday’s ACCN games, and more importantly, possibly won’t to see their favorite school on the triple header Saturday.

That starts with USF at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., followed by Florida State hosting Louisiana-Monroe and capped Saturday night by Miami’s opening conference game at North Carolina.

All to be shown exclusively, on the ACCN.

The crux of the problem is the amount of money that ESPN is looking to recoup from each individual customer of the provider. It is the same model that they have followed previously with the SEC Network and with their biggest channels like ESPN and ESPN2.

ESPN and the SEC had much more leverage five years ago at the launch of that television network with a much more rabid following. The SEC Network was picked up by every major provider in the state of Florida before games were ever played in the 2014 season.

Again, ESPN and the conference are negotiating non-stop and may very well get deals with the above major providers that are still holding out. But, it’s entirely possible that when the Noles, the Canes and the Bulls hit the field Saturday many of their fans in the state will not be able to see it, on TV, an app, nothing.

You’ve been warned.

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