FEDS SAY R. KELLY CON­TROLLED BANK AC­COUNT WITH $1.2 MIL.

Chicago Sun-Times - - BUSINESS - BY JON SEI­DEL, FED­ERAL COURTS RE­PORTER jsei­del@sun­times.com | @Sei­delCon­tent

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors say a bank ac­count con­trolled by R&B singer R. Kelly re­ceived at least $1.2 mil­lion last year and was cre­ated shortly af­ter the singer was charged with sex crimes in Cook County Cir­cuit Court.

They also say Kelly opened the bank ac­count in the name of a nom­i­nee, and, in recorded jail calls, the singer ap­pears to have di­rected peo­ple to con­tact that per­son “to re­ceive pay­ments in­di­rectly from Kelly.”

That, in part, is what pros­e­cu­tors say in­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing into when they un­ex­pect­edly wound up with bank records be­long­ing to an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Kelly in fed­eral court in Brook­lyn. Kelly’s de­fense team ac­cused the feds last month of an “un­rea­son­able, in­tim­i­dat­ing, and ha­rass­ing fish­ing ex­pe­di­tion into the records of Mr. Kelly’s cur­rent coun­sel.”

They did so af­ter dis­cov­er­ing fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors had ob­tained bank records from Kelly’s at­tor­neys and a law firm that once rep­re­sented Kelly, records show.

Kelly is ac­cused in fed­eral court in Chicago of child pornog­ra­phy and ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, while a sep­a­rate fed­eral in­dict­ment in Brook­lyn ac­cuses him of rack­e­teer­ing. Though Kelly is set to go to trial in both dis­tricts this fall, it is un­clear whether ei­ther case will go for­ward. Pros­e­cu­tors in Chicago sought Mon­day to de­lay the trial here.

Mean­while, Kelly has spent more than a year in fed­eral cus­tody at the Metropolit­an Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter in Chicago, and he has for months ar­gued he should be set free amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic. His lawyers are now chal­leng­ing his de­ten­tion in the 2nd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals.

In mak­ing their ar­gu­ment that he should go free, Kelly’s lawyers have said the singer does not have the money needed to flee. But As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney An­gel Krull wrote in a court fil­ing Tues­day that bank records ob­tained by gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­fute that no­tion.

Krull wrote that Kelly last year opened a bank ac­count in the name of an in­di­vid­ual who also in­cor­po­rated a busi­ness called SomeBrothe­rLuv LLC in March 2019. The next month, she said, Kelly as­signed his mu­sic roy­al­ties to the com­pany, and Kelly’s roy­al­ties be­gan to flow into its ac­count.

“It does not ap­pear that Kelly re­ceived con­sid­er­a­tion in re­turn for as­sign­ing his rights to the roy­alty pay­ments,” Krull wrote.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors sub­poe­naed records for the ac­count, she wrote, to de­ter­mine how the money was be­ing used. Specif­i­cally, in­ves­ti­ga­tors wanted to know if the money was be­ing used for bribes, or if the money was be­ing di­verted to help Kelly avoid fi­nan­cial penal­ties.

That ac­count re­ceived at least $1.2 mil­lion in 2019, Krull wrote. When in­ves­ti­ga­tors sought more records to help them trace pay­ments from the ac­count to uniden­ti­fied re­cip­i­ents, they dis­cov­ered that one re­cip­i­ent was an at­tor­ney for Kelly.

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

R. Kelly, who has spent more than a year in the fed­eral lockup in Chicago, is shown in March 2019.

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