Emails sent from R. Kelly prosecutor’s burner account to author of singer’s book at issue as trial looms

CHICAGO — The Chicago federal case against R. Kelly took yet another strange twist Wednesday when it was revealed that the one-time lead prosecutor used a burner email account and a fake name to communicate with the author of a book on Kelly’s sexual misconduct.

But the author, Jim DeRogatis, told the Chicago Tribune he was the one who was fishing for information from the prosecutor — Assistant US Attorney Angel Krull — and that he got nowhere.

The emails were revealed in a motion filed early Wednesday by an attorney for Kelly’s co-defendant, Derrel McDavid. The motion alleged Krull had used the pseudonym “Demetrius Slovenski” and username “piedpiper312” to create a Gmail account on April 16, 2019, three months before Kelly was indicted.

On the day the account was created, Krull began communicating with DeRogatis, a former Chicago Sun-Times reporter and author of the book “Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly,” according to the motion filed by attorneys Beau Brindley and Vladim Glozman .

The emails, which prosecutors turned over in discovery on Monday, indicated that DeRogatis sent Krull a copy of his book, which at that time had not been released to the public, according to the motion. Krull also references “an earlier oral conversation with Mr. DeRogatis that occurred that same day,” according to the motion.

Two weeks later, DeRogatis sent an email to Krull’s burner account asking “if the book was any help,” the motion stated. He also provided information about a conversation he’d had about the ongoing criminal investigation “with a prominent ‘enabler’ mentioned (in his book).”

Krull left the case in 2020 when she transferred to another district of the US attorney’s office. Sources told the Tribune she left Chicago to be closer to an ailing relative.

“Due to the extraordinary nature of these communications, Mr. McDavid asks the court to compel additional discovery about the circumstances of the conversation, how it came to light and its disclosure,” the motion stated.

At a pretrial conference Wednesday morning, Assistant US Attorney Jeannice Appenteng said the materials were turned over “out of an abundance of caution” but have no bearing on the criminal trial, which is set to begin Aug. 15. Appenteng said DeRogatis is not a witness and that the government has “never interviewed him.”

Brindley, however, wasn’t buying it. “We’re troubled by this,” he said. “We want to get more information. It is very, very strange.”

DeRogatis told the Tribune on Wednesday that he was the one to reach out to federal prosecutors in 2019, in an attempt to develop sources in the office. Ultimately, that effort was unsuccessful, he said.

“Angel never gave me a damn thing,” he said. “No federal prosecutor ever did.”

When DeRogatis reached Krull by phone in spring 2019, introducing himself as a journalist who had been reporting on Kelly for decades, she said she could not speak to him, according to DeRogatis.

“I said, ‘It’s a really complicated story, it goes on 20 years, my book is coming out,'” DeRogatis told the Tribune. Krull said she would be interested in seeing the book and gave him the “piedpiper” email address, according to DeRogatis.

“The amount of skulduggery I had to deal with from sources, attorneys and other people for 20-plus years, was I surprised I (got) a weird email? Well,” DeRogatis said. “So I sent her the book and I said, ‘Here’s the book, I’d love to chat.’ And a couple weeks later I said, ‘Was the book helpful? I’d love to chat.’ And I never heard back. Nothing.”

DeRogatis emphasized that federal prosecutors have not contacted him about being a possible witness in the upcoming trial, and he did not provide anyone with information that had not already been reported.

US District Judge Harry Leinenweber told prosecutors to file a written response to Brindley’s motion by the end of the week

Kelly, 55, was indicted in July 2019 on charges of conspiring with McDavid and another associate, Milton “June” Brown, to rig his 2008 child pornography case in Cook County and hide years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls. The trial is expected to last from four to six weeks.

In June, Kelly was sentenced to a 30-year prison term for his racketeering conviction in the US District Court in Brooklyn. He’s appealing both the jury’s verdict and the judge’s sentence.

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