Harris Co. prosecutors investigating new claims of fraud against R. Kelly’s former crisis manager

New claims being investigated include millions stolen from elderly man

Harris County prosecutors said Wednesday they are investigating new claims of fraud against a Houston man who once served as R. Kelly’s crisis manager.

Darrell Tracy Johnson was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on a 3rd-degree felony charge of aggregate theft. His first court appearance, which was set for Wednesday, was waived due to the court’s COVID-19 protocols.

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Johnson is accused of defrauding two people out of $50,000 in 2019 in what investigators say were schemes involving crisis management and real estate investment.

“Services that were never rendered and the money was never returned to the victims,” said Harris County assistant district attorney Sheila Hansel, who works in the consumer fraud division.

Now, additional people have come forward claiming they were also taken advantage of by Johnson.

Mindy Howard and her mother were among a group of 10 people who gathered at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse on Wednesday, holding signs detailing dollar amounts they said Johnson stole from them.

“He’s taken over $2 million from my dad, that we know of,” Howard said.

Howard said Johnson is her 77-year-old father’s neighbor. She said Johnson involved her father in a variety of deals that never materialized, from real estate to marketing.

“For the past four or five years, he’s just kind of worked his way into my father’s trust. So, it’s just a constant stream of ‘I need another $10,000, another $20,000.’ We’ve seen wire transfers go out for $160,000 and $175,000,” she told KPRC2.

She said the impact on her family has been devastating.

“It’s destroying our family to see everything that he’s worked for being stolen out from under him with all of these lies,” Howard said.

Howard and others are now coming forward, meeting with prosecutors Wednesday with hopes of their cases being investigated and resulting in additional charges against Johnson.

That includes Yachtze Luchin who has known Johnson for over 20 years. His cousin is Johnson’s wife.

“Based on that family connection, it made it easy for me to be a believer in what he presented to me,” said Luchin, who now describes Johnson as a “con artist”.

Luchin said he invested $60,000 in a real estate deal with Johnson that turned out to be a bust.

“No deal, no money. I’m not worried about the money. I know I’m not going to get the money back. We’re all here today because this needs to come to a stop and be stopped now before there are other victims,” Luchin said.

In previous interviews with KPRC 2, some alleged victims who did not want to be identified, worried their cases could not be included because they happened so long ago, but prosecutors said that’s not necessarily the case.

“If we can show a course of conduct going back year after year after year with no breaks in it, we can go back and grab cases from 10 to 12 years ago and bring them into this. Whether we can make those connections and fill in that many gaps between the most recent cases and things that happened some years ago, is yet to be seen,” assistant DA Hansel told KPRC 2.

Johnson is currently free on a $15,000 bond.

Hansel said Johnson must appear in court Monday for a hearing on his bond conditions. She plans to ask the judge for travel restrictions and for Johnson to surrender his passport.

She also wants Johnson to be prohibited from soliciting or taking money from anyone for investment or real estate purposes.

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