Self-Described R. Kelly Manager Pleads Guilty to Stalking

NEW YORK—A self-described manager and adviser to R. Kelly pleaded guilty Tuesday to an interstate stalking charge, less than a week after he was convicted of making a phone threat that gunfire was about to occur in a Manhattan theater where a documentary about the singer was about to be shown.

Donnell Russell, 47, of Chicago, entered the plea in Brooklyn federal court.

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said Russell used threats, harassment, and intimidation to silence one of Kelly’s sexual abuse victims. Kelly, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison last month, was convicted last year of racketeering and sex trafficking.

Peace said in a statement that Russell sent threatening messages to the woman and her mother and later published explicit photos of the victim on the internet.

Russell could face up to five years in prison at a Nov. 17 sentencing.

Prosecutors said the harassment campaign stretched from November 2018 to February 2020 after the woman filed a civil lawsuit against Kelly.

R Kelly
Singer R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 17, 2019. (Antonio Perez/Pool via Getty Images)

Last Friday, a Manhattan federal court jury found Russell guilty of threatening physical harm through interstate communication.

The jury concluded that Russell made a phone threat that forced the evacuation of a theater where Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series was to be shown, and a panel discussion was to occur featuring several women in the documentary.

Prosecutors argued during the one-week trial that Russell was trying to protect the lucrative career of Kelly, a Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling songwriter.

A trial witness had testified that a man with a deep voice had called the theater to warn that “someone had a gun and they were going to shoot up the place.” Prosecutors said the call was placed to the theater from Russell’s home on a day when Russell made nine phone calls to the theater to try to stop the airing of the documentary.