Feds investigated whether Bureau of Prisons employee leaked R. Kelly info to blogger

The employee had accessed Kelly’s records 153 times in 2019, even though she was not assigned to Chicago’s federal lock-up and had no official reason to access them.

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R. Kelly walks into the Daley Center in Chicago for a hearing in a child support case in March 2019.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Federal authorities looked into whether a now-retired Bureau of Prisons employee leaked information about R&B singer R. Kelly to an entertainment blogger while Kelly was locked up in Chicago’s downtown federal jail, records show.

Prosecutors sought a judge’s permission in February 2020 to search the employee’s computer following a report to the BOP’s Office of Internal Affairs that blogger TashaK had shared information that was available to BOP employees. That’s according to an affidavit written by a special agent with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

The affidavit was unsealed in federal court in Chicago August 18, as Kelly’s racketeering trial got underway in earnest in Brooklyn. Though it identifies Kelly only as “Inmate A,” it refers to him as “a nationally recognized celebrity whose criminal case has received media attention.” The BOP employee is identified only as “Officer A.”

Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Lausch, confirmed Kelly is “Inmate A.” He declined to characterize the status of the investigation but said no charges had been filed.

The records were first reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Kelly was arrested in July 2019 in Chicago and held in Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center until last June. Meanwhile, the BOP employee in question had been assigned to the Thomson Correctional Center from May 2019 until December 2019 when she retired, according to the affidavit.

MCC staff realized in November 2019 that TashaK had revealed information about Kelly available in a BOP system that contains records of inmate calls, visitation logs, emails and funds, the document said.

A review of access logs from July 15, 2019, through Jan. 8, 2020, showed that 60 BOP employees had accessed those records, including the BOP employee in question. That person had accessed Kelly’s records 153 times between July 15, 2019 and Dec. 12, 2019 — even though the officer was not assigned to the MCC and had no official reason to access them.

The agent made note of a Jan. 12, 2020 Instagram post from TashaK that depicted Kelly’s visitation list and revealed a date of Dec. 5, 2019, at 8:07 a.m. He wrote that access logs showed the suspected employee accessed Kelly’s records at that same time. Other BOP employees accessed them at other times of the day, the agent wrote.

The suspected employee also sent an email from her official BOP email address to a Gmail address on Nov. 13, 2019, and attached a 12-page document containing Kelly’s records, according to the affidavit. It included visitor and money logs and emails, it said.

TashaK divulged some of the emails in that attachment in a Dec. 22, 2019, YouTube video, the agent wrote.

Kelly, 54, faces federal racketeering charges in Brooklyn alleging he led an enterprise designed to help him recruit women and girls for illegal sex and to create child pornography. He also faces federal child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago.

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