With less than two months to go until ex-R&B superstar R. Kelly and two of his former associates go on trial in Chicago, the sparks are starting to fly.

But the most recent legal spat hasn’t involved prosecutors at all — it’s between the defendants.

On Wednesday, lawyers for former Kelly manager Derrel McDavid blasted claims by the singer’s attorney that there may be a conflict of interest with McDavid’s legal team as “either woefully uninformed or purposely mendacious.”

The response also criticized Kelly’s lawyer, Jennifer Bonjean, for what they called a “disingenuous” attempt to link one of McDavid’s current attorneys, Vadim Glozman, to famed Chicago defense attorney Edward Genson, who represented Kelly in his child pornography trial in Cook County in 2008 that ended with an acquittal.

Glozman worked for Genson’s law practice from 2012 to 2017, when it was closed due to Genson’s failing health. Genson died of cancer in 2020.

In asking for Kelly and McDavid to be tried separately, Bonjean said parts of the alleged conspiracy between Kelly and McDavid to buy back purported sex tapes “occurred in the law offices of Ed Genson.”

Bonjean also pointed to an interview Genson gave to a Chicago Sun-Times columnist in 2019, when he was in the advanced stages of terminal cancer, in which Genson said Kelly was “guilty as hell” and that he’d helped keep the singer out of trouble for a decade after his acquittal.

“Because Glozman arguably owes a duty of loyalty to Kelly because he was a member of the firm that represented Kelly, he is in a conflicted position,” Bonjean wrote. “This potential conflict may be an actual conflict if Glozman possesses privileged information that he may or can use to the benefit of his client or to the detriment of Mr. Kelly at a joint trial.”

In response, McDavid’s legal team called that assertion “disingenuous, insulting, and perhaps worse: pointless.”

The Sun-Times column, their motion said, omitted that a heavily medicated Genson was “rushed to the hospital shortly after the interview took place and that the interviewer only entered Mr. Genson’s home through false pretenses.”

“Relying solely on the manipulative interview of a dying man who was suffering through terminal cancer and the medications that treat it is hardly the portrait of the thoughtful pursuit of truth,” the motion by Glozman, Beau Brindley, and Blair Westover stated.

The motion also revealed for the first time that the Illinois Attorney Regulation and Disciplinary Commission, which investigates wrongdoing by lawyers, looked into Genson’s statements “and the decision was made that Mr. Genson’s license would be unaffected.”

The back-and-forth motions this week have added to the myriad issues surrounding Kelly’s federal case in Chicago, which is set to go to trial Aug. 1.

Kelly is charged with conspiring with longtime associates McDavid and Milton “June” Brown to rig his 2008 child pornography case and hide years of alleged sexual abuse of underage girls.

Kelly, 55, is also facing anywhere from 10 years to life in prison after being convicted Sept. 27 in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on racketeering conspiracy charges alleging he used his music career to further a criminal enterprise.

Other indictments alleging sexual abuse by Kelly brought in Cook County in February 2019 have yet to be scheduled for trial.

Kelly, who has been in custody since his arrest in downtown Chicago in July 2019, is currently being held without bond at a federal detention facility in Brooklyn.

In other pending motions, Bonjean has asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to grant her access to records from a federal investigation first revealed by the Tribune showing that a U.S. Bureau of Prisons officer was suspected of illegally accessing Kelly’s recorded phone calls, emails, visitor logs and other restricted information in 2019, when he was housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

Federal investigators said in a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Tribune that the information was then leaked to Tasha K, a popular YouTube personality who revealed it publicly in a series of inside scoops on the singer and his tumultuous relationships.

No one has been publicly charged as part of that probe, however Bonjean wrote in her motion Monday that she has “a good faith basis to believe that the stolen information was also provided to a government informant who may have shared said information with government witnesses at the behest of the government.”

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

mcrepeau@chicagotribune.com



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