CELEBRITIES

R. Kelly Fires Legal team, Hires Bill Cosby’s Appellate Attorney

CELEBRITY NEWS - Karen Smith Post

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The trial of R. Kelly continues as the fallen R&B singer put plans into motion for his future with getting a new legal professional. Earlier this month, Kelly’s three trial attorneys from the New York case also withdrew their appearances.

During a telephone conference Wednesday morning, Kelly, who is awaiting sentencing in a Brooklyn federal jail for his racketeering conviction in New York last year, said he wanted Jennifer Bonjean to represent him in the Chicago case, which is currently set for a jury trial in August.

“That’s correct, your honor,” Kelly answered after U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber asked if he was parting ways with his original Chicago-based attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard. The New York civil rights attorney Jennifer Bonjean, started her legal career in Chicago and who represented the musician at a court appearance on Wednesday. Kelly, 54, was scheduled to be in court two weeks ago, but contracted COVID-19 in his Brooklyn jail cell.

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Bonjean, whose legal career began in Chicago, told the Tribune last year she’s “looking forward to getting familiar with the record” in Kelly’s New York case, which was anchored by Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act charges that she called a “kitchen sink approach.”

Bonjean was granted a two-week extension after she told a judge that Kelly was unable to participate in his post-trial defense because of the illness. On Wednesday, Kelly told a judge that he no longer wants to be represented by his original legal team and wished for Bonjean to take over his legal defense.

Bonjean, who represented comedian Bill Cosby in his appeal of sexual assault charges and won his release from prison, tweeted on Wednesday that she had just filed an appearance in Kelly’s case in Illinois and that trial will begin Aug. 1 in Chicago.

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The judge had told Bonjean on Wednesday that trial needed to start as quickly as possible as Kelly has two co-defendants in the case that are seeking speedy trials.

Kelly, who is facing racketeering charges in New York, is represented by Bonjean in that case as well. Kelly was convicted of charges that he used his musical career to further a criminal enterprise. He was found guilty of 12 charges, including having sex with an underage girl as well as bribing an Illinois public official to get a fake ID for a 15-year-old musician so the two could marry.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in May and faces 15 years in prison but faces further charges in Illinois. Kelly is charged with trying to purchase back sex tapes he made with underage girls and also attempting to bribe witnesses in his child pornography case in Cook County in 2008.

Kelly, who has been in custody since 2019, was acquitted of the child pornography charge.
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