R. Kelly Funneled Millions in Royalties to Friend Before Sex-Trafficking Trial: Prosecutors

A New York federal prosecutor said during R. Kelly’s sentencing on Tuesday that the singer secretly sold $5 million in August — months before he was convicted of sex trafficking and racketeering.

According to Insider, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Geddes made the allegations during R. Kelly’s sentencing hearing. Kelly  reportedly made money through his master recordings, which are owned by Sony, and his rights to his composition and lyrics, which he allegedly sold before his federal trial began.

Geddes said that Sony has withheld paying Kelly between $3.5 and $4.5 million in royalties for his master recordings as the record label owes roughly $7 million related to civil judgments against Kelly. The singer was accused of selling $5 million in composition and lyrics rights, and the hundreds of thousands in proceeds are being held by a childhood friend. It is unclear who purchased the rights.

Meanwhile, Kelly’s legal team said they have no knowledge of this arrangement and that his royalties plummeted during the trial which resulted in his conviction.

On Tuesday, Kelly, 56, received a 30-year sentence for operating a sex trafficking ring that victimized young women, girls, and boys. A total of 45 witnesses testified during the six-week trial — including five women who recounted how Kelly imprisoned them and sexually abused them when they were underage.

During the trial, the court heard how a 27-year-old Kelly illegally married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in Illinois in 1994. U.S. Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez claimed Kelly married Aaliyah to avoid being prosecuted for impregnating her.

A former live-in girlfriend testified that Kelly also married the teen so she could get an abortion without requiring her parents’ consent — as the procedure could be done with a spouse’s approval. Aaliyah’s parents reportedly had the union annulled.

On the state level, Kelly is still facing 21 sex-related criminal charges in Cook County, Illinois. Last August, authorities in Minnesota charged Kelly with two counts of prostitution with a person younger than 18 in connection with an alleged 2001 incident. He also faces 13 federal counts in Illinois for various charges, including child pornography and obstruction of justice.

Kelly’s federal trial in Illinois begins in August.

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[Featured image: R. Kelly/Chicago Police Department]