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Judge rejects effort to make feds pay legal bills for R. Kelly’s ex-manager

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 1/23/2023 Jason Meisner, Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune

A federal judge on Monday shot down an unusual effort by the attorney for R. Kelly’s former business manager Derrel McDavid to force the government to pay McDavid’s nearly $1 million legal tab.

The long-shot motion filed in October by attorney Beau Brindley alleged the evidence against McDavid, who was acquitted of all counts by a jury, was “irreconcilably conflicted and incoherent,” and that he deserves payment after successfully defending himself against a “capricious and overzealous prosecution.”

McDavid incurred $850,000 in legal fees and was left to try to liquidate real estate and other assets in an attempt to pay them off, Brindley stated at the time.

Prosecutors defended bringing their case despite the jury’s findings, writing in response that McDavid “stood by Robert Kelly’s side for decades while Kelly sexually abused young girls and manufactured child pornography.”

In his four-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber wrote that the prosecutors had probable cause to bring the charges against McDavid and the allegations were “not vexatious, frivolous or in bad faith,” which is the legal standard for ordering that a defendant’s legal bills be paid by the government.

“The jury assessed the testimony, evidence and credibility of the witnesses, and reached a conclusion on those grounds,” Leinenweber wrote. “McDavid argues that the government’s case was logically impossible, but the court disagreed in trial, and it disagrees now.”

A jury of seven women and five men acquitted McDavid, 61, of all counts alleging he conspired with Kelly and another associate, Milton “June” Brown, to buy back incriminating videotapes of the singer sexually abusing underage girls and rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County. Brown was also acquitted of the single count against him.

The verdict was split, however, as the jury convicted Kelly on child pornography charges for making three videotapes of himself sexually abusing his then-14-year-old goddaughter beginning in the late 1990s, as well as sexual misconduct with two other minors around the same time period. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23.

McDavid was paid millions as Kelly’s longtime associate, according to trial testimony. He is a professional accountant who also managed other celebrities, and co-owns the popular River North restaurant Mercadito.

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