R. Kelly will have to start rationing his snacks and stamped envelopes after losing his bid to reclaim the $27,828 seized from his inmate commissary account after his sex trafficking conviction in New York.
The “substantial” sum will instead go to a new interest-bearing account where it will cover a $900 court fine and then be applied to victim restitution once the court determines what the victims are owed, U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly wrote in a ruling Friday.
The decision confirms Kelly was left with a paltry balance of $500 for use at MCC-Chicago, the lockup where he’s currently incarcerated while facing a subsequent trial on federal pornography charges.
Such commissary accounts are used to buy extra food items, toiletries, phone cards and clothing beyond what’s otherwise provided.
Kelly, 55, was convicted of racketeering and eight counts of sex trafficking on September 27, 2021 after a six-week trial in Brooklyn. Judge Donnelly sentenced him to 30 years in prison on June 29, 2022 and ordered him to pay a flurry of fines and fees. His restitution due to the victims has not yet been determined, but early last month, prosecutors asked prison officials to freeze the nearly $28,000 in Kelly’s inmate account.
Kelly’s lawyers fought the move, claiming the money was impermissibly “confiscated” because the government had not filed a notice of default and restitution had yet to be finalized.
Judge Connelly said Friday that that prosecutors’ quest to freeze the funds was “appropriate,” and that she was “mindful of victims’ rights ‘to full and timely restitution.’”
“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,” she wrote.
Kelly’s federal child pornography trial remains underway at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.