R. Kelly’s former manager has called for an active shooter threat to a Manhattan club showing Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ – because he fears the documentary about the disgraced R&B star could hurt his “results,” charged federal prosecutors at the start of his trial on Wednesday.
Donnell Russell is accused of phoning the NeueHouse Madison Square on December 4, 2018 and telling an employee that someone in the crowd had a gun and was going to ‘shoot’ the place, prompting the evacuation of the building.
“The call was short. The defendant was on point. And he was terrifying. Someone at the event had a gun and was going to shoot the place,” the assistant district attorney said Wednesday. American Laura Pomerantz to jurors in Manhattan Federal Court.
That evening, the members-only club was hosting a screening of the Kelly docuseries, as well as a panel discussion that was to feature a number of victims of the convicted sexual predator.
“He wanted to silence these women and he succeeded. His threat worked,” Pomerantz said. “The women didn’t speak that night. It’s because the defendant picked up the phone and made this threat about an active shooter in a packed New York theater.
Russell called the threat, Pomerantz alleged, because the docuseries could have damaged Kelly’s reputation — and cost him money as the “Ignition” singer’s manager.
He “depended on R. Kelly to keep playing and making money,” the prosecutor said.
“If R. Kelly couldn’t be hired to perform … couldn’t sell his music, it hurt the defendant’s bottom line,” she told jurors.
Russell’s attorney, Michael Freedman, encouraged jurors to focus on the evidence in the case, which he said was limited and could not prove his client’s guilt.
“The evidence on this will not be black and white. This call is not recorded. You’re not going to hear the threat call,” Freedman said.
Freedman said Russell called the theater several times that night, seeking to have the event canceled, but claimed he did so because he believed the docuseries would violate copyright laws. copyright.
The employee who received the threatening call, Freedman added, will testify that the voice of the person on the other end of the line sounded like they had a Brooklyn accent.
“He’ll tell you that at some point he got a call from another guy who sounded like he had a different voice,” Freedman said.
Russell is charged with uttering an interstate threat and a related conspiracy charge for allegedly making the phone call. He faces 10 years behind bars if convicted.
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison in June after his conviction on nine counts, including racketeering and Mann’s Act violations.
Prosecutors for the Eastern District of New York proved at trial that he ran an organization that trafficked girls across the country to sexually abuse them.
One of his victims was R&B singer Aaliyah, whom Kelly illegally married in a Chicago hotel room when she was 15.
Kelly, 55, still faces charges in Minnesota of engaging in prostitution with a minor, as well as federal charges in Illinois of pornography and obstruction. His federal trial in Chicago is scheduled to begin Aug. 15.
A lawyer for Kelly did not respond to request for comment.