A Brooklyn judge on Friday said the federal court system could empty R Kelly’s inmate trust account of nearly everything in it — $27,000 — to pay off fines associated with his sex trafficking conviction.
The disgraced R&B singer was sentenced to 30 years in prison in June on sex trafficking and racketeering charges for a 25-year scheme that saw him sexually abuse and psychologically torture young women and men. He was also ordered to pay about $140,000 in fines immediately, but the government says he hasn’t paid a penny.
The Bureau of Prisons froze Kelly’s account on Aug. 4 at prosecutors’ behest, leaving the once multi-platinum recording artist with access to about $500 in his inmate account at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.
Judge Ann Donnelly’s ruling authorized the BOP to issue a check for $27,828.24 to the Eastern District of New York clerk. She said the feds’ request to put Kelly’s money in an account he doesn’t have access to, so it can start building enough interest to pay off his mounting legal bills was appropriate.
“There is no dispute that these amounts are outstanding; nor is there any dispute that the funds in the defendant’s trust account ... constitute ‘substantial resources,” reads an excerpt of the judge’s order.
On top of the outstanding fines, Donnelly is expected to determine the sum Kelly will owe the victims in his Brooklyn case at a hearing on Sept. 28.
Kelly fought the seizure and demanded an “immediate return” of his frozen funds and sanctions against last month.
His lawyer Jennifer Bonjean did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
The 55-year-old is on trial in Chicago, charged with 13 counts related to child pornography, sexual abuse, and obstruction of justice. His current net worth is not apparent, but he’s believed to be drowning in millions of dollars of debt.
In 2019, before his federal conviction, Kelly told CBS’ Gayle King he couldn’t initially make $1 million bail because he was terrible at managing his own money. He denied that his assets were dwindling on account of legal settlements.
“Because the songs I’ve written, baby, I mean, you know, the songs I’ve written are songs that can handle settlements and everything else,” he said.