Three associates of R. Kelly have been arrested for attempting to intimidate and bribe victims connected to the musician’s impending trials.
The Department of Justice’s Eastern District of New York announced the arrests of Kelly’s former adviser Donnell Russell, Richard Arline Jr., and Michael Williams on Wednesday, August 12, as the three men have been charged individually for their respective crimes.
“The defendants are separately charged with engaging in multiple crimes that were intended to undermine and subvert the integrity of the criminal-justice system and victimize the women who have come forward with serious allegations of criminal conduct against the defendant, R. Kelly,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme. “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.”
Specifically, Russell has been charged with “using the mail, the internet, and cellular telephones to attempt to cause emotional distress to another individual,” according to the Justice Department. He is also said to be in charge of a Facebook page by the name of “Surviving Lies,” dedicated to defending Kelly.
Arline has been charged with “attempting to corruptly persuade the testimony of an alleged victim in the Kelly case.” According to a wiretap from early 2020, he attempted to give a victim $500,000 in exchange for her silence.
Lastly, Williams has been charged with “using and attempting to use intimidation and threats against an alleged victim in the Kelly case,” in addition to “maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and an explosive.”
“These crimes shock the conscience,” Peter Fitzhugh, special agent-in-charge at Homeland Security Investigations, said on Wednesday. “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.”
R. Kelly’s Brooklyn trial on racketeering charges was previously delayed due to COVID-19. The Brooklyn federal trial and Kelly’s Chicago federal trial will likely begin later this year.