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Judge Orders R. Kelly’s $28,000 Commissary to be Used to Pay ‘Substantial Criminal Monetary Penalties’ and Victim Restitution, Leaving Him with Only $500 

A New York federal judge submitted a ruling allowing state prosecutors to seize a significant portion of singer R. Kelly’s dwindling wealth to pay a court fine and victim restitution. While his business managers scramble to make sense of his roughly -$2 million estate, the artist will be allowed to keep less than $1,000 in his personal prison account, while the government assumes and further distributes the rest.

UNSPECIFIED LOCATION – MARCH 6: (EDITORS NOTE: Best quality available) In this handout provided by Cook County Sheriff’s Office, R. Kelly poses for a mugshot photo after being arrested for $161,663 in unpaid child support March 6, 2019. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Kelly will have to pay the full amount before he can be released from jail. (Photo by Cook County Sheriff’s Office via Getty Images)

Where the Money Will Go

On Friday, Sept. 9, the disgraced R&B chart-topper was hit a devastating blow after Judge Ann Donnelly ordered the federal Bureau of Prisons to fork over $27,824 from his inmate commissary account to fulfill debts he owes as a result of his recent conviction. Even as the outcome of his current trial in Chicago is yet to unfold, the court decided that $900 from the financial allotment in New York should go to square up a fine from the Brooklyn trial in 2021, according to Rolling Stone.

The rest of the money will be applied to restitution based on whatever the courts decide is appropriate from the “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” songwriter and producer. He will be able to keep a total of $500 in his inmate commissary account for use while the 55-year-old is incarcerated in MCC-Chicago, the facility he is in as fights federal pornography charges.

Breaking Down the Ruling

According to Billboard, the prosecution unpacked Donnelly’s ruling, saying, “The defendant has amassed nearly $30,000 dollars in his inmate trust account over the course of the last three years of incarceration.”

“The defendant has not made any payments towards the substantial criminal monetary penalties imposed upon him at sentencing,” the lawyers continued. “Even though payment was due immediately.”

Originally, the federal Bureau of Prisons was reluctant to support a decision to have inmates turn over money in the system to victims, noting the agency has used the money (even as it sat) in other ways internally like to fund salaries and benefits for hundreds of staffers with the bureau. Reports say the pot is significant for the agency, receiving into its budget $80 million from various inmates’ accounts under their stewardship.

Kelly argues the government is stealing from him. With this ruling, he believes, the court has improperly “confiscated” the funds from him, despite not having the authority to do so.

Donnelly’s decision still stood, with her rejecting his arguments and affirming her decision was in “dispute” with the federal statutes authorized by U.S. attorneys assigned to the case.

“The defendant’s remaining claims – that the [Bureau of Prisons] unlawfully ‘encumbered Mr. Kelly’s funds and that the BOP and the government should be sanctioned – have no merit,” the judge stated before saying she had to be “mindful of victims’ rights to ‘full and timely restitution.’”

Kelly’s Court Timeline

After a six-week trial, Kelly was convicted of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking on Sept. 27, 2021. On June 29, Donnelly sentenced him to 30 years in prison, compounded by a mandate to pay a bunch of fines and fees.

The defense plans to appeal the New York convictions, fighting to the end for the man who once sang he saw “nothing wrong with a little bump and grind.”

The current child pornography trial is believed to come to a close in the upcoming week; if this court finds him guilty, Kelly’s sentencing could, at the very minimum, double his current sentence.

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