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Feds: R. Kelly ‘is not in solitary confinement’

The singer refused a cellmate and ‘displayed a poor attitude,’ according to a new court filing.

R. Kelly talks to a supporter as he walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse June 6, 2019.
R. Kelly talks to a supporter as he walks into the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

R&B singer R. Kelly “is not in solitary confinement” and has had a cellmate for quite some time — despite refusing an order to take one last month, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Kelly also allegedly “displayed a poor attitude” as he was being written up for refusing that order. He said he was told he “didn’t have to take a cellie” and complained, “I have too much going (on) to worry about” an incident report.

That’s according to a 10-page filing from Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull that landed Friday afternoon.

“(Kelly) appears to want special treatment because of his celebrity status,” Krull wrote.

Steve Greenberg, Kelly’s lawyer, complained in a filing Thursday that Kelly has been held in solitary confinement since July 11. There, he said the singer has “no meaningful interaction with other humans,” can’t go outside and can’t watch TV.

Greenberg asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to order the Federal Bureau of Prisons to let Kelly out of solitary. He has also asked the judge to reconsider his earlier order keeping Kelly locked up inside Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Krull objected to both requests.

“Suffice it to say that (Kelly) is not in solitary confinement,” Krull wrote, “as he has had a cellmate for quite some time despite his initial refusal. In fact, he has had more than one cellmate so far.”

Reached by phone Friday, Greenberg argued that “solitary confinement doesn’t mean that you’re, like in the movies, that you’re locked like a POW in a dark hole.”

“Solitary confinement means you’re locked up 24 hours a day in a cell,” Greenberg said. “You have no TV. You have no (recreation). You have no interaction with other people, whereas if you’re on a regular floor you’ve got 30 or 40 other people you’re interacting with during the day. So the fact that you might have one other person in your cell who’s there because they can’t follow the rules and are being punished doesn’t change it from solitary confinement.”

As for Kelly’s refusal to take a cellmate as ordered, Greenberg said the cellmate Kelly refused had gotten in trouble for making a shiv or makeshift knife.

“I think it’s an oxymoron to say, ‘We’re holding someone in solitary for their protection and then give them a dangerous roommate,’” Greenberg said.

Kelly faces a combined 18 counts in federal indictments in Chicago and Brooklyn and could go to prison for as many as 195 years for the Chicago case alone. Out east, he potentially faces decades more behind bars.

In Chicago, he faces 13 counts revolving around child pornography, enticing a minor into illegal sexual activity and a conspiracy to obstruct justice — alleging Kelly thwarted his state court prosecution a decade ago with threats, gifts and six-figure payoffs.

The Chicago indictment describes alleged behind-the-scenes maneuvering designed to protect Kelly during the state court prosecution. It says Kelly and others intimidated the alleged victim and her parents into lying to police and a grand jury. They also allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars as they tried to track down tapes of Kelly having sex with minors before prosecutors found them.

Nevertheless, federal prosecutors in Chicago have said they have three Kelly sex tapes in their possession and can present evidence of a fourth.