According to prosecutors, Donal Russell made the shooting threat that shut down the premiere of the “Surviving Are Kelly” documentary in 2018.
NEW YORK — R. Kelly’s one-time manager was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for making phone calls. Shooting threat Which blocked a screening of a damning documentary about the R&B star.
The sentence will not add to the time when former manager Donal Russell is already preparing for a separate attempt to end sexual abuse claims against Kelly.
Russell told a Manhattan federal judge on Monday that he made “bad decisions” while briefly working with the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum-selling singer.
“I’m not a horrible person,” Russell said.
Russell said he reconnected with Kelly, a fellow Chicagoan he met decades ago, as the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer faces a growing string of allegations. was what ultimately motivated Kelly. Punishment for sex trafficking and fraud last year. Russell said he planned to help Kelly with intellectual property matters that he believed could get the actor money to pay legal bills.
But prosecutors said Russell also worked on something else: trying to suppress allegations of abuse. According to prosecutors, he tried to intimidate at least one accuser, threatening to sue Lifetime’s “Surviving Are Kelly” series and eventually calling in the warning that led to the documentary’s 2018 premiere. Hutton closed the premiere, according to prosecutors.
The series featured allegations that Kelly had sexually assaulted women and girls. Some accusers were slated to speak at a panel discussion after the premiere.
The phone call claimed someone at the event had a gun and intended to shoot. The screening was canceled and the theater was evacuated.
“I was happy it ended. I didn’t question how it ended,” Russell said in court Monday, adding that he recognized people have a “moral responsibility” to Make sure the things they are involved in are appropriate.
Prosecutors linked Russell to the incident through phone records and a text he sent about police possibly arriving at the scene. At trial, his defense argued that there were too many phone calls at the theater that day and that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the crime.
A jury in July convicted Russell of threatening bodily harm by interstate communication, while acquitting him of conspiracy.
A few days after the verdict, Russell Guilty plea Charged with an interstate stalking involving one of Kelly’s sexual abuse accusers. A federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced Russell last month to 20 months in prison for conduct that included sending threatening messages to the woman and later posting explicit photos of her online.
Russell, 47, is scheduled to turn himself in next year to serve his sentences in both cases concurrently.
At Monday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardiffe said Russell engaged in “serious criminal conduct” in a “misguided attempt to protect someone who was a prolific abuser.”
Kelly was He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June. In a sex-trafficking and fraud case in federal court in Brooklyn.
In September, a Chicago federal jury Convicted him of producing child pornography and soliciting girls for sex, although jurors acquitted him in a 2008 statewide child pornography trial of rigging. He will be sentenced on February 23 in this case.
Kelly also faces state-level charges. In Chicago And In Minnesota Regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. He has pleaded not guilty in Chicago. The singer has yet to be brought to Hennepin County, Minnesota to answer to the charges, but one of his lawyers called the case “ridiculous” when it was announced.