Three women arrested last year as part of a high-profile “human trafficking” sting in Florida were sentenced recently as part of plea agreements with Palm Beach County prosecutors. While avoiding further jail time, the women must still pay the state some hefty fees for allegedly facilitating the sexual gratification of massage customers, including New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft.
Meanwhile, all charges against Kraft were dropped in September. After courts ruled the state’s massage-room surveillance footage inadmissible, prosecutors dismissed cases against Kraft and other men charged last year with soliciting prostitution at Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
The investigation—aided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—was a mess from the start, with authorities in Palm Beach and nearby counties coordinating to target Chinese immigrant-owned spa businesses for prostitution stings and then announcing the results together as a major “human trafficking” bust. Local sheriffs made national news with their narrative of young Asian sex slaves and a vast network of knowing men who patronized them, and the story served as fodder for all sorts of melodramatic media exposes on “sex trafficking” at “illicit massage parlors” and “massage parlor brothels.”
Masseuse Shen Mingbi—one of two women at Orchids of Asia that Kraft was accused of patronizing—was charged with one count of deriving support from prostitution (a felony) and 10 counts of soliciting another for prostitution.
On November 30, she pleaded guilty to one count of soliciting another to commit prostitution, and authorities finally agreed to return her passport and phone and unfreeze her bank account. Mingbi was sentenced to one year on probation, conditions of which included 100 hours of community service (which she could pay $1,000 in lieu of serving since we’re in a pandemic) and submitting to the state results of HIV and STD tests.
Mingbi was also required to forfeit $20,000 to the Jupiter Police Department, in addition to the $5,000 cash bond she posted and the other $6,573 in fines and fees she was ordered to pay.
This is American justice in action. Donald Trump and Bob Kraft may have to pay for sex but they sure don’t have to pay in the American legal system. But the sex workers? Nail those whores to the wall!