R. Kelly sold some of his music rights for $5 million around the time of his trial, prosecutors claimed.
Prosecutors argued that the proceeds should be taken into consideration when the judge issues a fine.
Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison plus $140,000 in fines, to be decided later.
R. Kelly secretly has access to millions of dollars from the sale of some of his music royalties and funneled them through a childhood friend around the time of his sex-trafficking trial last year, prosecutors said in court on Wednesday.
Assistant US attorney Elizabeth Geddes disclosed the allegations during the singer’s hearing in Brooklyn federal court just before that. a federal judge has sentenced him to 30 years in prison† Kelly was convicted of sex trafficking in September after a six-week trial.
Geddes noted that Kelly, through his R&B music, received revenue from two separate forms of intellectual property rights. One is from his master recordings, which are owned by Sony. The other is the rights to his composition and lyrics, which Kelly personally owned until August 2021 — the month his trial began.
Sony has withheld royalties from Kelly for his master recordings as the company is dealing with judgments related to civil lawsuits against him. They currently hold between $3.5 and $4.5 million in royalties for Kelly, but owe $7 million in judgments, Geddes said Wednesday.
However, the composition and lyrics rights were sold in August for $5 million. (Prosecutors have not identified who bought them.) Prosecutors said the proceeds belonged to Kelly’s childhood friend Keith Halbert. Halbert also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from those rights, prosecutors said.
Jennifer Bonjean, Kelly’s attorney, said during the hearing on Wednesday that she was unfamiliar with the transaction and that royalties “dropped dramatically during the trial”.
“I’m not familiar with the fact that he can get $5 million,” she said.
Bonjean also argued that the potential for future royalties should not be considered as Judge Ann Donnelly, who presided over the trial, viewed a fine as a fine. Many people refuse to play his music because he is a convicted rapist and sex trafficker, she noted. He also struggles to understand the nature of his contracts because he struggles with literacy, she said.
“I think he’s almost needy,” Bonjean said. “He has no fixed sources of income.”
Donnelly imposed a $100,000 fine in addition to serving the 30-year prison term, plus a $40,000 legal fine for human trafficking. She also has a hearing on restitution scheduled for September.
Kelly’s biological sisters, on his father’s side, shook their heads as Donnelly behind bars decides what financial sanctions he will face.
“I think neediness is probably a stretch,” Donnelly said.
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