Ex-R. Kelly manager Donnell Russell guilty of threatening club to show documentary
R. Kelly’s former manager was convicted Friday of making an active shooter threat to a private Manhattan club that was to host a screening of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” in 2018.
Donnell Russell was convicted of one count of threatening bodily harm by interstate communication, but acquitted of one count of related conspiracy. He faces a maximum of five years in prison.
Russell used his home phone in Chicago to call New House Madison Square on December 4, 2018 and tell a worker there that someone in the crowd had a gun and was going to “shoot” the place, the jury in Manhattan federal court found.
The members-only club was hosting a premiere screening of the documentary that evening, as well as a panel discussion with Kelly’s victims.
Throughout the three-day trial, prosecutors showed the panel that Russell made repeated phone calls to the theater that day, threatening legal action and claiming the documentary about the disgraced R&B star violated privacy laws. copyright.
When these threats failed, Russell disguised his voice and made the sinister threat call.
“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 Lara Pomerantz in her opening statement.
Russell was motivated by money, Pomerantz argued, telling jurors that if the event went as planned, it would hurt Kelly’s reputation — and hurt Russell’s “bottom line.”
“He wanted to silence these women and he succeeded. His threat worked,” Pomerantz added.
Russell’s attorney, Michael Freedman, argued that the evidence available to prosecutors was limited and did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Russell is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 21.
Kelly, the former R&B superstar, was convicted in September 2021 of racketeering and Mann’s Act violations. Prosecutors proved at his trial that, for decades, Kelly ran an organization that allowed him to sexually abuse and traffic girls.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June.