NEW YORK – R. Kelly's manager has been arrested in California on charges that he threatened a shooting at a Manhattan theater two years ago, forcing an evacuation and the cancellation of the screening of a documentary addressing allegations that the singer had sexually abused women and girls.
Donnell Russell, 45, of Chicago, was charged with conspiracy and with threatening physical harm by interstate communication.
He appeared remotely Friday from Los Angeles before a magistrate judge in Manhattan. He was permitted to remain free on $75,000 bail. An email seeking comment was sent to his court-appointed lawyer.
The charge comes on the heels of Russell being charged in Brooklyn federal court earlier this week with harassing a Kelly victim and her mother after the unidentified woman filed a lawsuit against Kelly. Authorities said Russell sent a letter to the woman’s lawyer with cropped nude photographs of her and later sent her a text warning her: “Pull the plug or you will be exposed.”
In the latest case, authorities said the threats by Kelly's manager and adviser in December 2018 forced the cancellation of the screening of Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series at the NeueHouse Madison Square as police took precautions, although they determined that there was no imminent threat.
Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release that a number of the Grammy award-winning R&B singer's accusers were to attend the screening.
“Threats of gun violence aimed at intimidating and silencing victims of sexual abuse are unlawful as well as unacceptable," she said.
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York's FBI office, said it “defies logic that a threat like the one alleged here could stop victims from speaking about their alleged abuse."