R. Kelly associates arrested, accused of threatening & bribing alleged victims: Feds

Prosecutors said one of the singer’s acquaintances lit a car on fire to intimidate an accuser

Federal prosecutors in New York announced Wednesday that they’ve arrested three of R. Kelly’s associates with intimidating and harassing victims in the singer’s racketeering case.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement that Richard Arline, Jr., 31,  Donnell Russell, 45, and Michael Williams, 37, are facing criminal charges for their efforts to “harass, intimidate, threaten or corruptly influence” accusers in Kelly’s pending case.

Kelly, 51, is facing multiple federal charges in New York for allegedly infecting a woman and minor girl with herpes, racketeering, and sex trafficking that reportedly crossed state lines.

Prosecutors said Russell, R. Kelly’s friend and self-described manager, harassed one of the victims and her mother via mail, telephone, and internet. Russell allegedly tormented the pair from November 2018 to February 2020, after the victim filed a civil lawsuit against R. Kelly.

Russell allegedly also threatened to publicize sexually-explicit images of the victim and reveal her sexual history if she didn’t dismiss the lawsuit against Kelly and stop associating with organizers of a “negative campaign” against the singer. He reportedly showed graphic images of the victim during two interviews which were streamed live on YouTube.

“On January 6, 2019, Russell, using the Colon Dunn alias, created a Facebook Page named “Surviving Lies,” a play on the title of Lifetime’s ‘Surviving R Kelly’ documentary, and posted screen shots of text messages between Kelly and Jane Doe, which contained the same sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe,” prosecutors also said.

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Arline, reportedly a longtime friend of Kelly, allegedly attempted to influence an accuser’s testimony between January and June 2020. Prosecutors charged that recorded phone calls caught Arline offering the victim $500,000 if she stopped cooperating with federal authorities.

In one of the intercepted phone calls, Arline allegedly detailed plans to bribe the accuser, saying, “if I had a way to talk to Rob [Kelly], being next to him, and telling him what’s going on, without nobody listening to, no feds, nobody, he gonna pay her…off to be quiet.”

In June, Williams, a relative to Kelly’s former publicist, reportedly set fire to an SUV parked outside a Florida residence where one of the victims was staying. Prosecutors said the vehicle belonged to the victim’s father.

Fire crews reportedly discovered an accelerant outside the perimeter of the home. Cell phone records allegedly showed Williams had traveled to Georgia to the Florida residence. Prosecutors claimed Williams also searched online for information about how to detonate fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and tampering, and which countries don’t extradite suspects to the United States.

In addition to the racketeering charges, federal prosecutors in Illinois have charged Kelly with a total of 26 criminal counts for charges including child pornography, obstruction of justice, and sexual abuse of a minor.

Kelly is also facing a total of 21 sex-related criminal charges in Cook County, Illinois. Those state charges reportedly stem from allegations dating back to 1998 and involve at least three underage girls. In August, authorities in Minnesota charged Kelly with two counts of prostitution with a person under 18 in connection with an alleged 2001 incident.

The singer remains jailed in Illinois.

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[Featured image: R. Kelly/Chicago Police Department]