April 2019

Robert Kraft, the owner of The New England Patriots, has a record of surreptitious taping that extends over most of the 21st century.  Alert readers (ARs) from St. Louis will recall that Kraft’s Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI after one of his minions secretly taped a practice of The St. Louis Rams.  Thanks to this secretly gathered intelligence, the Patriots were able to prevail over the Rams, who had been favored to win by two touchdowns.  Seventeen years later, shortly after The Patriots had defeated The Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, it was revealed that Kraft himself had been secretly taped at The Orchids of Asia Day  Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

 

As all ARs and almost everyone else in the world now knows, Kraft was arrested for aiding and abetting human trafficking.  According to most legal experts, Kraft is very unlikely to be sentenced to any jail time if he’s convicted; and the maximum fine he would have to pay would be $5,000. As paltry as this amount might seem, it’s many times what the multi-billionaire Kraft is reported to have paid the victims of human trafficking for their “services.”  And it’s an even greater multiple of what the victims were allowed to keep for themselves.

 

Robert Kraft is not the first Bostonian to run afoul of the criminal justice system in Palm Beach County.  In 1991 William Kennedy Smith celebrated Good Friday by drinking at a Palm Beach watering hole called Au Bar with his uncle Edward Kennedy (U.S. Senator from Massachusetts) and his cousin Patrick Joseph Kennedy (then a State Representative in Rhode Island, later a U.S. Representative).  The three Kennedy men then repaired to the family compound on North Ocean Boulevard with two young women, one of whom subsequently claimed that Willie had raped her.  As many ARs will recall, Willie was acquitted after a ten-day trial that was televised nationally on Court TV.  The presiding judge was Mary Lupo, an alumna of Georgetown Law School.  The defendant was, at the time, a student at Georgetown Medical School.  (Not that there’s any rivalry between these two professional schools at my alma mater.)

Wedding Toast in Naples, Florida

 

Seven years earlier, another Kennedy had spent Easter weekend in Palm Beach with even more unfortunate consequences. David Kennedy (Teddy’s nephew and a cousin of Willie and Patrick) checked into The Brazilian Court Hotel on April 19, 1984.  On April 25th members of the hotel staff found him in his room, where he had died of a drug overdose.

 

I want to emphasize that I am not particularly interested in death tourism.  I have never been to Graceland and would not be inclined to pay extra to see the bathroom where Elvis died in 1977.  When I recently stayed at The Brazilian Court, it came as a complete surprise to realize that I was staying in the same room in which David Kennedy had famously died 35 years earlier… Room 107.

 

While getting a respite from freezing temperatures in St. Louis, I enjoyed multiple activities during my Florida sojourn, including golf with retired high school classmates in Boca Grande and The Village of Golf; an 80th birthday celebration for one of my law partners in Vero Beach; Cardinals Spring Training in Jupiter; and a wedding in Naples involving a bride and groom whom my wife had introduced to each other several years ago.

 

In addition to sharing the joy of a marvelous young couple, one of the highlights of the wedding was the availability of Schlafly Beer.  The mother of the bride, knowing of Ulrike’s role in putting the couple together, had taken it upon herself to serve Schlafly Beer, which is generally not available in Florida.  We had, however,  recently done a one-time shipment to every Total Wine Store in the state, meaning she was able to pick up an ample supply of our White Lager at Total Wine in Naples.  What a pleasant surprise to find it behind the bar when I least expected it.  It was especially gratifying that a lot of guests who were not from St. Louis and had never before tasted Schlafly put a significant dent in the bartender’s supply.

 

One of the features of the beer scene in South Florida is the dominance of a major wholesaler that’s owned by a corporation in St. Louis. Much of this market dominance was achieved by shady tactics of which federal and state regulators strongly disapproved.  Shortly before my visit to Florida, the major wholesaler had made a payment $1.5 million to The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to settle the charges of illegal trade practices. This was the largest penalty ever collected by the TTB in its history.  It’s also 300 times the maximum fine Robert Kraft could face for his role in human trafficking.

Tom Schlafly

Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery