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Pop star R. Kelly seeks to shake up defense team ahead of trial in Brooklyn

June 11, 2021 Jim Mustian, Associated Press
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Jailed R&B singer R. Kelly wants to shake up his legal defense team two months before he is set to go on trial in Brooklyn Federal Court on federal racketeering charges.

His top two attorneys, Steve Greenberg and Michael Leonard, of Chicago, filed a motion this week seeking to withdraw from the long-delayed case, saying it would be “impossible” for them “to properly represent Mr. Kelly under the current circumstances.” Kelly is facing separate charges in that city.

Brooklyn Federal Judge Ann Donnelly did not immediately grant the motion, requesting more details about the apparent falling out among Kelly’s team of lawyers.

“Sometimes you can’t save someone from themselves,” Greenberg wrote on Twitter this week, “no matter how hard you try.”

Two other attorneys for Kelly, Thomas A. Farinella and Nicole Becker Blank, told the judge the shakeup won’t affect Kelly’s Aug. 9 trial date in Brooklyn Federal Court. They said Kelly fired Greenberg and Leonard.

In a hearing in April, Judge Donnelly requested that Kelly be transferred from a federal jail in Chicago to a New York jail, which observers said would probably be the Metropolitan Detention Center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. 

A request for comment was sent Thursday to Greenberg and Leonard.

Kelly, 54, is accused of leading an enterprise made up of his managers, bodyguards and other employees who helped him recruit women and girls for sex. Federal prosecutors say the group selected victims at concerts and other venues and arranged for them to travel to see Kelly.

The Grammy Award-winning singer denies ever abusing anyone.

Kelly also faces numerous sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota and is scheduled to stand trial in September in Chicago federal court.

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