Disgraced singer, R. Kelly’s former manager has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for calling in a shooting threat at a New York theater in 2018 to stop a screening of the damaging docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly”.
Donnell Russell, who briefly managed Kelly as he faced growing sexual abuse allegations, was sentenced for his crime in a New York court on Monday, December 19, according to the Associated Press.
As the judge handed down his sentence, Russell claimed he’s not a “horrible person,” but admitted to making “bad judgements” during his time working with Kelly, who himself is behind bars.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe condemned the 47-year-old as someone who took part in “serious criminal conduct” in “a misguided attempt to protect someone who was a prolific abuser.”
In the false alarm phone call, Russell claimed someone at the event had a gun and intended to open fire. The theater was subsequently evacuated and the screening called off.
“I was happy that it ended. I didn’t question how it ended,” Russell said of the canceled premiere during his sentencing hearing.
The docuseries, which aired on Lifetime TV network in 2019 and helped lead to R. Kelly’s eventual imprisonment, detailed the allegations that the singer sexually abused women and girls. Some of the accusers were scheduled to speak on a panel after the screening.
Prosecutors linked Russell to the crime through phone records and a text he sent about police potentially arriving at the venue. He was convicted in July of threatening physical harm through interstate communication, although he was acquitted of conspiracy.
Donnell Russell will serve his sentence concurrently with another conviction related to his efforts to supress R. Kelly’s accusers.
In November, Russell also from Chicago like Kelly, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for stalking one of the singer’s sexual assault victims in order to “silence” her.
Russell is alleged to have used phone calls, emails and texts to harass and intimidate the victim and her mother between 2018 and 2020. His coercive campaign even included publishing explicit photos of the victim online behavior prosecutors called “reprehensible.”
R. Kelly is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence for racketeering and sex trafficking charges. He was convicted again in September of child pornography and exploitation charges by a federal jury in in his hometown of Chicago.
R. Kelly and his fiancée Joycelyn Savage reportedly welcomed their first child together earlier this month. The baby girl, whose name is Ava Lee Kelly, was conceived through IVF.