R. Kelly seeks to shake up defense team ahead of NYC trial

Chicago News

R. Kelly appears during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Sept. 17, 2019. (Antonio Perez/pool/Chicago Tribune)

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 New York 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.”

U.S. District 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.”

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

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.

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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