R. Kelly’s ex-manager Donnell Russell gets prison for harassing victim

R. Kelly’s former manager was hit with a 20-month prison sentence Thursday for harassing and intimidating a victim of the disgraced hip-hop star.

A federal judge in Brooklyn handed down the sentence to Donnell Russell, the self-appointed manager of Kelly, after he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking over the summer.

The Chicago native threatened to publicize sexually explicit photos of the victim, who was connected to the federal racketeering case against Kelly in the same jurisdiction, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The harassment began after she filed a civil lawsuit against Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, and dragged on as it became clear she was also a victim in Kelly’s federal criminal case and could potentially testify.

Kelly was convicted of all nine counts in Brooklyn federal court in 2021 and was sentenced to 30 years in prison earlier this year.

Donnell Russell was sentenced to 20 months in prison Thursday.
Alec Tabak
R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Sept. 17, 2019, in Chicago.
Russell was the self-described manager of disgraced hip-hop star R. Kelly.

US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace called the punishment against Russell, 47, a “victory for crime victims.”

“For more than a year, the defendant engaged in a vicious campaign to harass, humiliate and threaten the victim in order to force her to dismiss her lawsuit against R. Kelly and stop speaking publicly about him,” Peace said in a statement.

“The punishment meted out to the defendant today is a victory for crime victims, particularly those of sexual assault and abuse, who are often reluctant to come forward to law enforcement or pursue legal recourse, given the trauma and fear of retaliation associated with publicly discussing their experiences.”

Federal prosecutors said when Russell pleaded guilty that he could’ve faced as many as five years behind bars.

From November 2018 to February 2020, the Kelly loyalist originally threatened to reveal the sexually explicit pics of the victim and her sexual history in a bid to stop the civil lawsuit against the “I Believe I Can Fly,” singer, the feds said.

Donnell Russell arrives at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse on July 20, 2022
Russell sent intimating texts to the victim and her mother, the feds said.
Alec Tabak

Russell even mailed a letter to her lawyer in November 2018 with cropped nude photos of the victim, prosecutors said.

The text of the note read, “the next two pictures have been cropped for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!” 

The next month Russell, using the alias Colon Dunn, sent a flurry of cruel texts to the victim and her mother with the same nude photos and wrote, “Just a sample.  We will seek criminal charges.  You’ve been warned,” and additionally said, “Publishing soon,” prosecutors said.

He also divulged, “[T]his is Colon.”   

At the start of 2019, Russell again texted the victim and her mother, warning, “Pull the plug or you will be exposed.”

The same month, he started up a Facebook page that defended Kelly and posted texts between the hip-hop artist and victim with the same private photos. Then a year later, he again showed the sexually explicit photos during live interviews on YouTube with vloggers who supported Kelly, prosecutors said.

Russell’s ill-advised backing of Kelly also got him in trouble when he was convicted in July of a federal charge for calling in an active-shooter threat to a private Manhattan club that was scheduled to show a screening of the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” in 2018.