NEW YORK (AP) — R. Kelly’s onetime manager was sentenced Monday to a year in federal prison for calling in a shooting threat that halted a screening of a damning documentary about the R&B star.
The punishment won’t add to the time ex-manager Donnell Russell is already set to serve for a different effort to squelch sexual abuse claims against Kelly.
Russell worked with Kelly as the Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling singer was starting to face what would become a tide of accusations, and eventually a sex trafficking conviction. Russell repeatedly sought to suppress the allegations, prosecutors said.
Russell told a Manhattan federal judge Monday that he had “made bad judgments” after starting to work with Kelly on what Russell described as intellectual property matters.
“I’m not a horrible person,” Russell said.
The theater threat came shortly before the scheduled start of a December 2018 Manhattan premiere of Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series, which spotlighted allegations that Kelly had sexually abused women and girls. A live panel discussion, including several women featured in the documentary, was to follow the screening.
The phone call claimed that someone at the event had a gun and intended to fire. The screening was canceled and the theater evacuated.
In that case, a jury convicted Russell in July of threatening physical harm through interstate communication, while acquitting him of conspiracy. Russell’s defense argued that there were lots of phone calls to the theater that day, and that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove he committed a crime.
Days after the jury verdict, Russell pleaded guilty to an interstate stalking charge involving one of Kelly’s sexual abuse accusers. A Brooklyn federal judge sentenced Russell last month to 20 months in prison for conduct that included sending threatening messages to the woman and later publishing explicit photos of her online.
Russell, 47, is due to turn himself in next year to serve his sentences in both cases simultaneously.
Kelly, meanwhile, was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison in his sex trafficking and racketeering case.