R. Kelly Seeks Release, Claims $1.88 Million Tax Debt Prevents Him From Being A Flight Risk

After receiving a federal tax lien for allegedly owing nearly $2 million in back taxes, R. Kelly is using his debt to the IRS as reasoning for his release from Chicago's Metropolitan Correction Center, per TMZ. The embattled R&B singer claims that this debt would prevent him from being a flight risk if he were granted release until his trial later in the year. The 53-year-old has been held at the prison since July of 2019.

In documents filed by Kelly's lawyers, the tax lien was added to their argument that the singer doesn't have the funds to leave the city if he were released from prison. The singer is seeking release due to the threat posed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Kelly is currently making his second request to be granted bail due to the virus, following the revelation that six inmates and seven staff members at the Chicago MCC had tested positive. When Kelly's initial request for release was denied earlier in April, the prison had zero cases.

In the motion for release filed by Kelly's defense attorney, Michael Leonard, he described the conditions the singer -- and other prisoners -- are currently facing during the pandemic, per the Daily Mail.

"Inmates are reportedly banging on doors, walls, and windows begging for help. The only thing the MCC has done is lock things down, making the situation feel more like solitary confinement and possibly, because of the nature of this virus, locking in healthy inmates with those who may already have the virus but who may not yet be symptomatic."

R. Kelly arrives at court.
Getty Images | Scott Olson

Prosecutors in Kelly's case argue that the singer's team is not being honest about his financial status, claiming that he has already made more than $200,000 from royalties in 2020. Kelly's lawyers responded by claiming that the sum from royalties is the gross amount, and doesn't factor in fees for agents and other cost considerations. Kelly's legal team added that the singer would not have access to any of the royalties due to his tax debt, regardless.

Kelly's lawyers also offered to allow for restrictions to be placed on any funds that Kelly does have available as a condition of his bail. They added that the singer "made absolutely no attempt to flee," and "never once failed to appear" while the cases against him were being built.

Kelly is currently facing state and federal charges across the country, per Rolling Stone. In New York, he has been charged -- at the federal level -- with racketeering, transportation to engage in illegal sexual activity, and coercion of a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. In Illinois, he is facing federal charges on several sexual abuse allegations -- including charges concerning child pornography -- along with sexual assault and abuse charges in Cook County. Kelly has also been charged with solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes in Minnesota. Kelly has pleaded not guilty on all counts.