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Former R. Kelly Manager Sentenced For Threatening To Shoot Theater Playing 'Surviving R. Kelly'

A judge sentenced Donnell Russell, 47, to one year in federal prison for calling in a phone threat of gunfire to stop a documentary about R. Kelly's sexual abuse, according to the Associated Press.

By Caitlin Schunn
The R. Kelly Scandal, Explained

A Manhattan federal judge sentenced R. Kelly’s former manager to one year in federal prison for calling in a shooting threat to stop the screening of a documentary about the R&B star, according to the Associated Press.

Donnell Russell, 47, told the judge on Monday he “made bad judgments” while working with the Grammy-winning singer. 

“I’m not a horrible person,” he said, according to the AP.

Russell was convicted on July 22 of making a phone threat that gunfire was about to occur at a Manhattan theater that was preparing to show a documentary about R. Kelly’s sexual abuse of women and girls, according to the AP. The December 2018 documentary premiere included a live panel with several women featured in the documentary.  The threat forced the premiere to be canceled.

Kelly was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison in his sex trafficking and racketeering case, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.

RELATED: R. Kelly Manager Pleads Guilty To Stalking After Conviction For Threatening Documentary Screening

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz told the jurors the evidence of Russell’s guilt was “overwhelming,” the AP reported. She said phone records proved a call to the theater came from Russell’s Chicago home after he’d spent the day also trying to stop Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series from being shown. His efforts included nine calls to the theater, and a threat to sue, the prosecutor said.

R. Kelly's manager Donnell Russell leaves federal court

The AP reported Russell also texted a co-conspirator in the movie theater that the police may be coming to the venue shortly, and later asked her to delete the text, but she didn’t. The prosecutor said Russell wanted to keep income flowing from Kelly’s career.

In its closing argument, the government played a recording of a call to police made by Adrian Krasniqi, who worked at the 25th Street venue, the AP reported. Krasniqi testified during the one-week trial that a deep-voiced man who sounded “like a thug” warned that “someone had a gun and they were going to shoot up the place.” Krasniqi said he received the threatening call less than an hour after a man claiming to be part of Kelly’s legal team called and said the documentary was violating Kelly’s copyright to his name and should not be shown. Prosecutors said that call was made by Russell.

This new punishment won’t add to the time Russell is already set to serve for trying to suppress the abuse allegations against the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, according to the AP. Less than a week after he was convicted of making the phone threat, Russell pleaded guilty to an interstate stalking charge involving one of Kelly’s sexual abuse accusers, according to Oxygen.com. U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said the former manager sent threatening messages to the victim and her mother, according to the AP, and later published explicit photos of the victim on the Internet.

Russell is expected to turn himself in next year to serve his sentences in both cases at the same time, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Lifetime is due to release yet another installment to the series about R. Kelly's sexual abuse case in January. 

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