Three of R. Kelly’s friends were reportedly arrested for attempting to harass, threaten, intimidate and bribe the embattled R&B singer’s alleged victims.
Billboard reports the U.S. attorney general’s office for the Eastern District of New York unsealed three separate criminal complaints on Wednesday (August 12) that detail the charges against Richard Arline, Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams. They are all charged with attempting to threaten or influence the unnamed witnesses in the case against Kelly.
Arline stands accused of offering one of Kelly’s alleged victims a $500,000 payment to stop her from cooperating with the investigation. The 31-year-old was charged with engaging in misleading conduct with one woman with the intent of influencing, delaying and preventing her testimony in the case.
In another complaint, Russell was charged with threatening to unveil an alleged victim’s sexually explicit photographs and her sexual history if she didn’t “cease her participation and association with the organizers” of a “negative campaign” against the fallen singer.
He’s also accused of sending a letter to her attorney allegedly from Kelly with cropped nude pictures of the Jane Doe and the caption, “The next two pictures have been cropped for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!” Russell, 45, allegedly sent the same photographs to the alleged victim’s mother with the text, “You’ve been warned.” Russell is charged with using the mail, internet and cell phones to try to cause emotional distress to both women.
Meanwhile, Williams is believed to have set an SUV on fire in June as it was parked outside a Florida residence where one of the alleged victims was living at the time. Prosecutors said fire investigators discovered an accelerant along the outside perimeter of the residence as well. Cell site records, surveillance footage, toll records, photographs and Williams’ internet searches for the alleged victim’s address showed he’d driven from Georgia to Florida to carry out the crime.
Williams was charged with attempting to use intimidation and threats against the alleged victim to stop her from testifying. He also got hit with “maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and explosion.” According to the Department of Justice, Williams was arrested on Tuesday morning (August 11) in Pompano Beach.
“These crimes shock the conscience,” Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in a statement. “The men charged today allegedly have shown that there is no line they will not cross to help Kelly avoid the consequences of his alleged crimes — even if it means re-victimizing his accusers. These acts not only fly in the face of human decency, they insult the very rule of law.”
Acting United States Attorney Seth DuCharme added, “Efforts to illegally influence pending federal cases, whether through threats of violence, intimidation, damage to property, or payments to buy a potential witness’s silence, will not be tolerated.”
Kelly is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago as he awaits trial in Illinois regarding several sexual abuse allegations. Kelly is also facing charges in New York of racketeering, coercion of a minor, transportation of a minor and coercion to engage in illegal sexual activity related to six different victims.