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After Guilty Verdict of Self Described R.Kelly Manager Donnell Russell Filed a Motion to Dismiss as a Vessel

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Song Podcast Song II
BBC - Decrypt - VLOG - Thread - Source Trial

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 22 – After the conviction and sentencing of R.Kelly in the Eastern District of New York, on July 18, 2022 jury selection became for the trial of his associate Donnell Russell for threats to try to stop a screening of the documentary "Surviving R.Kelly." As with the EDNY trial (below), but in more detail, Inner City Press live tweeted the second and last day ( first day here) of jury selection here.

On July 22, Russell was found guilty of interstate threat, and sentencing was set for November 21 at 10 am. Thread below.

On November 4, SDNY Judge Paul G. Gardephe ruled against Russell's motions for acquittal or a new trial, but pushed sentencing back to December 19.

On December 15, the US Attorney's Office wrote in to Judge Gardephe asking that a dial-in number exist for the sentencing. While it is requested for "Individual-1" who attended and was evacuated from the NeueHouse, if such a line is established, the public should be able to call in on a listen only basis too, it would seem. Watch this site.

On December, the victim (the mother of Faith R.) did call in. Inner City Press was in the courtroom, thread:

Judge: He was protecting a prolific molester. Judge Donnelly imposed a substantial 20 month sentence and that is sufficient. I impose one year, concurrent. No extra time. Fine of $10,000.

Russell wants to postpone surrender date from Feb 21 to May 1 - because he says he's getting a government grant in March.

On May 22, after Russell fired his lawyers, docketed was his pro se "motion to dismiss," describing himself as vessel and with an 1099. We'll have more on this.

We'll continue to follow and report on the case(s).

On November 4 Inner City Press live tweeted here:

OK  - now a proceeding / ruling in US v. Donnell Russell, self-described manager of #RKelly. He's filed a motion on which Judge Gardephe is about to rule

Judge Gardephe: This was about a screening of a film alleging that RKelly had sexually abused young girls. 70 to 100 people attended the screening. The evidence showed the defendant repeatedly called the venue to try to stop the screening

Judge Gardephe: Russell coordinated with Kash Jones, a hip hop journalist. He wrote to her, Are they continuing with the screening? Jones replies, Yes.

Judge Gardephe: After texting Kash Jones that the police might be coming, Donnell Russell later told her to "delete those messages about 5-0." Russell said in an "At Night" YouTube interview that if the screening had happened, some concerts wouldn't have happened

 Judge: The jury found Russell guilty on Count Two, not guilty on Count One. He moved for a judgment of acquittal on Count Two... But the threat call was made from the Russell Land Line. And he texted Kash Jones about "the cops may be arriving shortly"

Judge: Russell said on YouTube he was on the phone with the venue "all day." He pretended to be a lawyer, sending a cease & desist letter.... In sum, evidence was more than sufficient... Yes, the threat recipient sounded like a thug. But a jury could ID Russell

 Judge: Asking for a new trial, Russell argues that the court erroneously allowed in various exhibits. Some of the exhibits he cites were never admitted. The others were relevant and/or not inflammatory. Only 1409-A was objected to; it was redacted

 Judge: So the motion for a new trial is [also] denied. Sentencing is adjourned to December 19. Thank you all and good day.

On December 5, Donnell Russell's lawyer filed a sentencing memo asking for... probation, stating that "Mr. Russell's mistake has already cost him his standing in the community and caused humiliation, stress and financial hardship." Watch this site.

On August 4 in EDNY, the US asked for an order to the Bureau of Prisons to turn over the $28,000 in R. Kelly's account to it: "The Government writes to respectfully request that the Court sign the enclosed  proposed order directing the Bureau of Prisons (the “BOP”) to turn over the restrained funds held  in the inmate trust account of Defendant Robert S. Kelly (“Defendant”) to the Clerk of the Court  for deposit into an interest-bearing account pending a determination as to the amount and  applicability of a restitution judgment... at the request of the  Government, the BOP has restrained $27,828.24 of the funds that have been deposited into the  Defendant’s trust account." Letter and draft order on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

On September 28, Judge Donnelly held a proceeding. R.Kelly appeared by Zoom - but there was no public listen-only call-in line. And Inner City Press continues to await approval from EDNY District Executive Eugene J. Corcoran to bring a phone into the courthouse, even during the US v. Tom Barrack trial where other media have them. Judge Donnelly issued this: "Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Ann M. Donnelly: Restitution hearing as to Robert Sylvester Kelly held on 9/28/2022. Appearances by AUSA Lauren Elbert. Jennifer Bonjean and Ashley Cohen for defendant Kelly (present via zoom). Case called. Discussion held. The Court ordered restitution for Jane Doe #5 under 18 U.S.C. § 2429, and reserved judgment on an aspect of Jane Doe #2's restitution pending additional calculations by the government. The Court declined to order restitution as to Jane Doe #3. The Court inquired further about the defendant's financial resources, and asked the parties to provide an update to the Court to the extent they have new information. The government must file a supplemental letter regarding restitution by October 5, 2022; that letter must (i) clarify the government's calculations with respect to Jane Doe #2, and include (ii) a proposed restitution order and (iii) a proposed payment schedule for both the restitution and the other criminal monetary penalties imposed in this case. The defense must submit a response, if any, by October 12, 2022. The parties should determine whether they can agree on a payment schedule, and if so, to submit a joint proposed plan." Watch this site.

On August 10, R. Kelly's lawyer had fired back: "a reporter from the Washington Post contacted undersigned counsel for comment about an article he was writing concerning the seizure of funds in inmate trust accounts for the purpose of paying court-ordered judgments. During that conversation, it became clear to undersigned counsel that the reporter obtained confidential information from the BOP..." Full filing on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

On September 9, Judge Ann Donnelly granted the Government's request: "As it stands, the defendant has not paid his $900 special assessment, $100,000 fine or $40,000 JTVA assessment. (ECF No. 326-1.) There is no dispute that these amounts are outstanding; nor is there any dispute that the funds in the defendant’s trust account, totaling $28,328.24, constitute “substantial resources” within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 3664(n).3 Thus, the government’s request is authorized by section 3664(n)’s plain terms,...The defendant’s remaining claims—that the BOP unlawfully “encumbered Mr. Kelly’s funds” and that the BOP and the government should be sanctioned—have no merit. Full order on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

Later in September, Judge Donnelly ordered that the government's request to seal is too broad: "ORDER: In its submissions regarding restitution [331] [337], the government asks the Court to seal its letters and documents relating to restitution.  "[D]ocuments may be sealed if specific, on the record findings are made demonstrating that closure is essential to preserve higher values and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest." Lugosch v. Pyramid Co. of Onondaga, 435 F.3d 110, 120 (2d Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). Although protecting the identities of victims and their personal medical information are higher interests that may justify sealing, the Court does not find that sealing the parties' letters in their entirety is "narrowly tailored" to those interests. The victims testified in court, under pseudonyms, about many of the things that underlie the restitution requests.  Therefore, by September 27, 2022, the parties are instructed to confer and submit to the Court joint proposed redactions of their letters at ECF Nos. 331, 336 and 337. Public versions of the letters will be issued once appropriate redactions have been determined. Ordered by Judge Ann M. Donnelly on 9/23/2022." Watch this site.

On July 20, there were opening arguments and witnesses - seemingly, more than half of the case. Inner City Press live tweeted here.

On July 21, the US' final witnesses and rested; Russell did not take the stand and the evidence closed, setting up the July 22 closings before deliberation. Inner City Press live tweeted July 21 here.

On July 22, the closing arguments, jury charge, question and verdict (guilty). Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

OK - now in #RKelly "associate" Donnell Russell's trial for allegedly calling in gun threat to Neuehouse screening of Surviving R. Kelly, closing arguments.

Jury entering!

 Judge Gardephe: Now the closing argument of the government. Assistant US Attorney Davis: It is time to hold the defendant accountable for what he did. Not in dispute is that the defendant wanted to stop the screening that night

[US plays audio of Don Russell's "public interview" admitting he was on the phone all day with Neuehouse]. AUSA Davis: It is only not in dispute that the defendant was in contact all day with Kash Jones. And his home address in Chicago, not in dispute.

AUSA Davis: At 7:51 pm Adrian Krasniqi called 911, and said the threat was made 10 minutes before. [911 call played] AUSA Davis: So all you have to decide is whether the defendant is the one who called in the threats, and worked with others to do so

AUSA Davis: Look at this, the NYPD called the defendant's home several times. And, the defendant knew the cops were coming to the theater before the cops did. At 7:36 pm the defendant texts Kash Jones, 15 minutes before Krasniqi calls 911, that the cops may come

AUSA Davis: People don't call 911 for a cease and desist threat. Now listen to this: [recording of Russell talking about IndyBuild] AUSA: Russell & June Barrett worked for #RKelly. Here is an invoice, R. Kelly owed Barrett & Russell $4000.

 AUSA Davis: It was defendant's mission to shut down the screening to protect #RKelly and his own bottom line... Kash Jones sent Donnell Russell the contact info for Lifetime executives. He sent around the powerpoint, Survivors.pdf to smear the women

AUSA: Don Russell called one of the victims a "live-long criminal." He also smeared Jerhonda. Let's go to January 2019. Look at Exhibit 1510. When he learned that Kash Jones is the one who said had called in the gun threat, he ran a background check on Kash Jones

 AUSA Davis: This is classic evidence of consciousness of guilt. He needed to discredit Kash Jones as he tried to discredit the survivors... He reached out to Lifetime as "Colon Dunn," supposedly #RKelly's private investigator. But he check it with his own email

 · 6h AUSA: At 7:12 pm defendant calls Midtown South of NYPD. Then he calls a fire station on 14th Street with his number blocks. Then he calls the Fireball Club at 204 E. 23rd Street, right near Neuehouse. Then FDNY headquarters in Brookyn. Then 7:27, 3-1-1

 AUSA Davis: Don Russell did not want Kash Jones to even meet #RKelly, because she would incriminate him. Donnell Russell said, Give that sh*t to me. He made a terrifying threat, it is a Federal crime.

AUSA Davis: When you review the evidence you will conclude, Donnell Russell is guilty. Thank you. Judge Gardephe: Mr. Freedman, are you prepared to proceed? Freedman: Yes... They haven't proven he committed the crimes they charge him with.

 Freedman: We don't deny Mr. Russell tried to stop the screening. But I'm confident you're going to reach the right result. None of the evidence proves he actually made a threat. You don't know who made the threat call. There isn't proof beyond a reasonable doubt

Freedman: Let me talk about reasonable doubt. It's a phrase I use a lot and I'm going to keep using it. If there's evidence you realize you could have used and you didn't see it, that can be reasonable doubt and that's Not Guilty.

Freedman: It's not a conspiracy to help #RKelly. They have to show the threat. There are holes. There was no voice ID in this case. But no one in this trial has heard his voice.  [Wait - another reason to not testify? Could US have re-called Krasniqi?]

 Freedman: Only Krasniqi heard the call, four years ago, and he's done several mind altering drugs. Still he told you the cease and desist caller sounded professional, like you heard Don Russell on the YouTube. You saw his resume [walks away from mic]

Freedman: He said the second caller sounds like a thug, "someone from Brooklyn, like the Wu-Tang Clan." [That is a direct quote]. Look, he was wearing a Chicago Bears cap. He is not from Brooklyn.

 Freedman: Is Mr. Davis saying the threat call was the 7:37 pm or the 7:38 pm call? That's reasonable doubt. Mr. Krasniqi admits that other calls came in when he was not at the desk. It's reasonable doubt. They want you to hear he worked for #RKelly and convict him

 Freedman: This is my last chance to talk with you. The US goes last, because it is their burden. But in the jury room, ask yourself, What would Mister Freedman say? What about this call from Mike Williams? The 8169 number? That's enough.

Freedman: Remember Jerry McGuire, and Ron Tidwell. It's like that: show me the money! Where is it? They haven't shown. That's reasonable doubt. He's not charged with trying to shut down the theater. It's the threat. If there's not enough evidence, it's not guilty

Freedman: You'll hear about R. Kelly again. But you said you won't let that sway you. Thank you. Judge Gardephe: A break before rebuttal. They're back, after extensive hot-mic between Freedman and Russell (nothing damning).

AUSA Pomerantz: Adrian Krasniqi received a threat. Russell would stop at nothing. He called the call a threat. Defense counsel has no good response.

AUSA Pomerantz: Mr. Krasniqi is not a voice expert. He's just guy at the desk of Neuehouse. You can change your voice, from a lawyer voice to a tough voice. He wanted to sound scary. Mr. Freeman tried to say the 7:38 call was a fax. That doesn't make sense.

 AUSA Pomerantz: Mr. Krasniqi didn't get a threat-fax. The cease and desist was put in over the website. The defendant used his home phone to communicate with Kash Jones. He texted her, Call me on my phone line, she calls the 1689 number. 50 minutes. Not a fax.

AUSA: Don Russell is just a man, who made a threat. Why did he do it? To shut down a documentary screening, to protect his bottom line. He is guilty.  [Sits down] Judge Gardephe, jurors, we've ordered lunch for you. We'll resume later. Thread will continue.

 Before jury returns, Freedman is holding forth. Freedman: I think Friday afternoon always focuses a jury's mind [to reach a verdict]. In LA, it's the traffic that does it. [Bets are being taken whether jury reaches Russell verdict this afternoon, after the charge]

 It's 1:01 pm and defendant Donnell Russell is not back in court. Freedman is told to call him and does, says "His phone is off, he must have just gone through security." And here he is now. Judge Gardephe: Bring in the jury.

 All rise! Judge Gardephe begins his jury instructions, telling them not to given any weight to overruled or sustained objections. "Be fair and impartial."

Judge Gardephe deploys the SDNY-standard example of circumstantial evidence: a person comes into the courtroom with a wet umbrella. You can surmise that it is raining. Or... #RKelly

Judge Gardephe: If you would like transcript of the testimony, send me a note. Any communication to me should be through your foreperson. I have prepared a verdict form for your use. You may now begin your deliberations. Inner City Press will tweet as needed

 Update 1: So far, as the jury deliberates, only Freedman remains at counsel table(s). The prosecutors have left (their office is around the corner). Donnell Russell has stepped out. Inner City Press is on the case - watch this site.

Update 2: There is a jury note. Judge Gardephe says his inclination is to simply reiterate his instructions and add that they are not being asked to determine if there was an open end conspiracy between Russell and Kash Jones, only that there was a conspiracy

 AUSA Davis: Fine with US. Freedman: I agree. Judge Gardephe: I'll call them in and tell them, it is not appropriate to put in notes anything about the discussions taking place in the jury room. Then I'll refer them to page 21.

 Judge Gardephe: Please bring out the jury. Jury entering! Judge Gardephe: Your wrote, We are confused. Some of us feel that Kash Jones participated in a conspiracy with the defendant that was open ended. Others feel no proof Jones was available.

 Judge Gardephe: Questions are appropriate. But don't disclose the nature of any conversations in the jury room. On conspiracy, see Page 21 of my charge. You may resume your deliberations. [Jury leaves] Judge: We'll await their next note. Us, too. Watch this feed.

Update: During lull after jury showed its hand, Donnell Russell and Freedman speak first in the courtroom, now outside of it. Seems Freedman is interpreting the note - and mulling a plea to Count 1, to avoid a verdict on Count 2? Would the US even offer that, now?

 Update (near final) - the prosecutors are back in the courtroom. It seems there is not only a note, but a verdict. Now Donnell Russell is back. Judge Gardephe: OK. The jury has reached a verdict. Bring the jurors out.

All rise! Judge Gardephe: Mr. Foreperson, what say you? Guilty. [After jury leaves"] Freedman: I'll brief my rule 29 motion in two weeks. Judge Gardephe: Sentencing Nov 21 at 10 am.

 Note: There were two UN Marshals in the courtroom, in case Judge Gardephe ordered him immediately jailed. He didn't.

Update: I ran out of the courthouse and caught up with Donnell Russell and his lawyer Freeman, asked them if any comment on the verdict. First Don Russell told Freeman, I'm not talking to him. Then a real "no comment."

Inner City Press will cover the motion(s) and sentencing, and the wider R. Kelly (and others) legal worlds.

This case is US v. Russell, 20-cr-538 (Gardephe)

The morning of jury selection in the R.Kelly trial, which began on August 18, 2021 with no call-in line and no Press or public in the courtroom, his lawyers docketed a motion to dismiss, below.

  On September 2, Inner City Press went to the EDNY courthouse in Brooklyn, before 9 am. There were supporters of R.Kelly on the sidewalk in front, one with a tiara; there was other journalists. On a delay occasioned by the flooding of the subway system, all entered and up to the (overflow) Courtroom on the sixth floor.

  On TV screens, at first two lawyers milled about, then others, then Judge Ann Donnelly herself. Why she decided not only to ban the Press and public from the actual courtroom, where the reactions of the jury for example could be gauged, but worse to have no call-in line, is not known.

 Now is why, when she played some of the audio the prosecutors presented to the jurors, it was only for only some members of the media, rather than have it made available as a judicial document. Later on September 27, nine jury guilty verdicts for R.Kelly, whose lawyer Devereaux Cannick said, "I'm sure we'll be appealing."

On June 8, the US filed its sentencing memo, asking for more than 25 years. "Based on a total offense level of 45 and a criminal history category of I, the applicable Guidelines  range is life imprisonment. II. A Sentence in Excess of 25 Years is Warranted  The government respectfully submits that a sentence in excess of 25 years is  appropriate in light of all relevant factors, including the nature and circumstances of the offense,  the history and characteristics of the defendant, and the need for the sentence to reflect the  seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment, to afford  adequate deterrence and to protect the public" Memo on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

On June 29, in a proceeding of which no live tweeting was permitted, R.Kelly was sentenced to 30 years. He did not speak prior to sentencing, unlike for example Ghislaine Maxwell the previous day in SDNY. (She got 20 years). We'll have more on this.

 Full motion on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here.

  September 2 witnesses began with a Mr. Yong Fe Wu (phonetic), a forensic biologist in Illinois. He put big numbers on the screen -- look, Ma, thirty zeros! - but when R.Kelly's lawyer Cannick asked if if weren't possible that the semen-stained shirt he tested hadn't been taken by someone coming over the fence, he replied, I don't know that story.

  Next up was Homeland Security Special Agent Chris Wilson, not to be confused with the next witness, Chris' cousin Mike. Chris testified at length about photos and text messages extracted from two iPhones and one laptop taken from R.Kelly.

Then Mike Kelly, who was present at the arrest on July 11, 2019 in Chicago's Trump building, testified about an iPad.

 During this, the woman in the tiara, whose birthday it was and is and who said she was spending it with the "King of R&B," fell asleep on the back bench of the overflow courtroom and, to be honest, began to snore.

A Court Security Officer came in and told her, you can't sleep in the courtroom, you have to go outside. But she sat up and remarked, accurately, "This is the boring part."

And needlessly opaque - no exhibits, no call in line. Watch this site. And this vlog; hear this podcast.

Previously, reverse chronological:

With less transparency each week, now no exhibits have been made available since August 23. On the morning of August 21, the defense filed a request for access to legal mail and documents they say have been withheld for more than two months (photo of letter Tweeted here) and now full letter on Inner City Press' DocumentCloud here

"RE: United States v. Robert Kelly Criminal Docket No.: 19-286 (AMD) Dear Judge Donnelly: The defense writes to respectfully request that the Court Order that the Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals provide Mr. Kelly with his legal mail and documents that were collected when he was moved from MCC Chicago to MDC Brooklyn. Mr. Kelly was moved to MDC Brooklyn over two months ago and his mail and legal documents from MCC Chicago have not been delivered. Accordingly, it is respectfully requested that the Court Order that the BOP and U.S. Marshals provide Mr. Kelly his legal mail and documents from MCC Chicago." Watch this site - & this.

Inner City Press published the full motion on its DocumentCloud here, and song here.

Watch this site, and on Twitter, @InnerCityPress

  Inner City Press which successfully advocated for the restoration of call-in access to January 6 proceedings in the District for the District of Columbia, did an August 18 stand-up outside the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, here

From the motion to dismiss: "Mr. r. Kelly respectfully submits this memorandum of law in support of his pre-trial motion  to dismiss in advance of trial in this matter."

  Inner City Press published the full memo on its DocumentCloud, here.

  Inner City Press will continue to follow and report on these cases. EDNY is US v. Robert Sylvester Kelly, a/k/a R. Kelly, EDNY Docket No. 19-cr-286 (AMD).

Criminal in SDNY is This case is US v. Russell, 20-cr-538 (Gardephe).  More on Patreon here.



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