Feds say nothing deceptive about private email used by R. Kelly prosecutor in contact with journalist
But lawyers for one of Kelly’s co-defendants insist the feds’ response is woefully inadequate. “The government does not get to fiat that its officers and agents did nothing wrong,” they said.
Federal prosecutors acknowledged Tuesday that a private email account using a fake name was created to obtain an advance copy of a 2019 book about R&B superstar R. Kelly, but they said that “none of the emails exchanged using the account were in any way deceptive.”
That prompted an aggressive response Wednesday from lawyers for a co-defendant in Kelly’s federal case in Chicago, though. They insisted they want to call the prosecutor who used the email account as a witness at trial, which is expected to begin in days.
“One can only imagine how the government would respond if a criminal defendant took on a fake name and a surreptitious email account and used it to contact potential witnesses,” lawyers for former Kelly employee Derrel McDavid wrote.
The feds’ comments came in a 17-page response to allegations last week that a former lead prosecutor in Chicago’s federal case against Kelly engaged in “surreptitious” communications with Jim DeRogatis, the author of “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly.”
McDavid lawyers Beau Brindley and Vadim Glozman alleged that Assistant U.S. Attorney Angel Krull used the pseudonym “Demetrius Slovenski” and the username “piedpiper312” to create an email account she then used to communicate with DeRogatis in April 2019. They later said Krull may have developed an inappropriate personal relationship with an alleged victim in the case, identifying her in her phone contact list as “Boss Baby.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Julien on Tuesday told U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber he should not allow defense attorneys to embark on “a wide-ranging fishing expedition in the hopes of turning up evidence of some kind of government misconduct.”
Julien wrote that the private email account used by Krull to obtain a copy of DeRogatis’ book was created “by, and at the suggestion of, a Homeland Security Investigations” agent.
“AUSA Krull did not create the account or decide on the names associated with it; she signed each of the messages she sent in her own name,” Julien wrote. “DeRogatis was at all times fully aware that he was communicating with an AUSA assigned to the R. Kelly investigation.”
Julien also wrote that no government agent “has ever provided DeRogatis with any confidential information regarding this matter at any time,” and that “no other private email accounts were used in connection with the investigation or prosecution of this case.”
Still, Julien wrote that the correspondence was only discovered by the current trial team in May, and it was not immediately produced to the defendants “because the documents’ nature and origin were unclear.”
As for the “Boss Baby” nickname, Julien wrote that “there is nothing improper” about Krull’s use of it to identify the alleged victim in her phone. Text messages they swapped largely revolved around the scheduling of calls or meetings, he argued.
Finally, Julien stressed that Krull left the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago “to care for a family member suffering from cancer.” She is now based in the U.S. attorney’s office in Connecticut.
McDavid’s lawyers later assailed Julien’s filing as woefully inadequate.
“The age-old problem of the fox in the hen house may be lost on the government, but it remains clear as day before this court,” McDavid’s lawyers wrote. “The government does not get to fiat that its officers and agents did nothing wrong.”
Kelly and two of his former employees, McDavid and Milton “June” Brown, are set to go to trial Monday in Chicago’s federal courthouse. Although Kelly is already serving a 30-year federal prison sentence for his conviction last year in New York, he still faces serious child pornography and obstruction of justice charges here.
The prosecutors in Chicago said Kelly illegally thwarted an earlier 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County that ended in his acquittal. They allege he and McDavid agreed to intimidate, threaten and pay off witnesses in that case.