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R. Kelly's associates charged in scheme to threaten, intimidate and bribe alleged victims

Three associates of R. Kelly’s have been arrested for separate schemes to harass, threaten, intimidate and bribe alleged victims in the singer’s case. Kelly, real name Robert Sylvester Kelly, is awaiting trial on federal sexual abuse and racketeering charges for purported crimes in Chicago and New York.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced on Wednesday charges have been brought against Richard Arline, Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams. Three criminal complaints were unsealed and detail how the men allegedly attempted to influence accusers from testifying. In one instance, prosecutors claim a car was set on fire in order to intimidate a woman.

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R. Kelly through the years

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CHICAGO - DECEMBER 20: Embattled R and B singer R. Kelly (C) heads to court December 20, 2002 in Chicago, Illinois. Kelly faces 21 counts of child pornography stemming from a videotape that surfaced, allegedly depicting the singer having sex with a minor. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

R. Kelly performs at The United Center in his hometown, Chicago. 05/15/99 (Photo by James Crump/WireImage)

R. Kelly (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

NEW YORK - JUNE 10: American recording artist, songwriter, record producer and former professional basketball player R. Kelly doing a signing on June 10, 1992 at the BMG Distribution Conference Room in New York City. (Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images)

Singer, R. Kelly on stage during a concert at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. (Photo by Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

NETHERLANDS - APRIL 01: Photo of R KELLY (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

NETHERLANDS - APRIL 01: Photo of R KELLY (Photo by Paul Bergen/Redferns)

8 Feb 2002: Singer R. Kelly performs at the Opening Ceremony of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

BARTOW, FL - JUNE 6: Florida attorney Diane Buerger (R) argues for bail for R&B singer R. Kelly (L) at the Polk County Courthouse on June 6, 2002 in Bartow, Florida. Judge Karla Wright decided on $750,000 bail and Kelly waived extradition and will be sent back to Illinois. (Photo by George McGinn/Getty Images)

ROSEMOUNT, IL - SEPTEMBER 25: (FILE PHOTO) Singer R. Kelly performs at the Rosemont Horizon on September 25, 1994 in Rosemont, IL. R. Kelly, was arrested on a warrant alleging 12 counts of possession of child pornography on January 22, 2003 in Miami, FL. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

DADE COUNTY, FL - JANUARY 22: Singer R. Kelly is shown in this police handout photo January 22, 2003 at the Dade County Jail, Florida. Kelly was arrested on charges of child pornography after police found pictures of Kelly engaging in a sex act with an underage girl. Kelly is currently facing child pornography charges in Illinois for a separate incident. (Photo by Dade County Jail/Getty Images)

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 15: R. Kelly performs as part of his 2003 Summer tour at the Oakland Arena August 15, 2003 in Oakland, California. R. Kelly is currently touring the U.S. promoting his 'Chocolate Factory' release. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

SANTA MONICA, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Singer R. Kelly performs on stage at the Vibe Awards: Beats, Style, Flavor at the Santa Monica Civic Center, November 20, 2003 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images) The VIBE Awards air November 21, 2003, on UPN.

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 21: Singer R. Kelly (R) and guest attend the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls on November 21, 2003 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 10: Singer R. Kelly performs onstage during the 2003 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena December 10, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 14th annual ceremony airs live tonight on FOX 8:00-10:00 PM ET Live/PT. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 8: Singer R. Kelly and guest attend the BMG Post-Grammy Party following the 46th Annual Grammy Awards at the Avalon on February 8, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20: Singer R. Kelly performs at the '18th Annual Soul Train Music Awards' at the Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 20, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 29: Singer R. Kelly performs during the 'Best of Both Worlds' tour with Jay-Z on September 29, 2004 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: Singer R. Kelly performs on the 'Best of Both Worlds' tour with Jay-Z October 29, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

MIAMI - AUGUST 28: Singer R. Kelly arrives at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards at the American Airlines Arena on August 28, 2005 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

PASADENA, CA - MARCH 04: Singer R. Kelly accepts the Stevie Wonder Award with Stevie Wonder (R) presenting onstage at the 20th Annual Soul Train Music Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on March 4, 2006 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

NEW YORK - AUGUST 15: Singer R. Kelly attends the premiere of Chapters 13-22 of 'Trapped In The Closet' at the IFC Center, August 15, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 11: Soul singer R. Kelly and rapper Beanie Sigel pose during the making of Sigel's music video for his single, 'All Of The Above' at the Sofitel Hotel in Chicago, Illinois on October 11, 2007. (Photo by Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Singer/songwriter R. Kelly performs at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 5, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Dr. Billy Ingram/WireImage)

LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 355 -- Pictured: Musical guest R. Kelly performs on December 6, 2010 (Photo by Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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“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,” acting U.S. Attorney Seth D. DuCharme stated in the release, obtained by Yahoo Entertainment. “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.”

Arline is a longtime friend of Kelly’s who prosecutors believe attempted to illegally influence the cooperation and testimony of an alleged victim. The woman contacted law enforcement when she learned of Arline’s plan and authorities were able to record phone calls between the two. Arline apparently offered her $500,000 “to be quiet” and claimed that he had communicated with Kelly while the “Ignition” crooner was incarcerated.

During one intercepted call, Arline allegedly said, “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” because “[s]he got too much. She got too much.” 

Russell is Kelly’s self-described manager, adviser and friend who is accused of harassing and intimidating an alleged victim (“Jane Doe”) and her mother after the women filed a civil lawsuit against the musician.

“Specifically, Russell threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly and ‘cease her participation and association with the organizers’ of a ‘negative campaign’ against Kelly,” prosecutors claim.

Using an alias, Russell allegedly created a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies,” a play on the title of Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly documentary, and posted screenshots of text messages between Kelly and the woman, which contained sexually explicit photographs.

In June 2020, Williams — a relative of an individual who once served as a publicist for Kelly — allegedly set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence in Florida where one of Kelly’s alleged victims and others were staying. Fire investigators detected an accelerant along the outside perimeter of the residence. 

“Cell site records, surveillance footage, toll records and photographs, and Williams’ internet searches for the victim’s address, revealed that Williams had driven from Georgia to the Florida residence. Williams also performed internet queries about the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering, and countries that do not have extradition with the United States,” prosecutors say. 

Along with attempting to influence, delay and prevent a victim’s testimony, Williams is also charged with maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and an explosive.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent-in-charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said in a statement “These crimes shock the conscience.” 

“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. HSI will continue to bring the full force of our investigative powers to pursue those seeking to attack witnesses and pervert the cause of justice. To the victims of these and other crimes: we stand with you. We will meet your bravery with our resolve to keep you safe to tell your story,” Fitzhugh concluded. 

NYPD Commissioner Dermot F. Shea added: “The bribery, intimidation and violence alleged in these complaints reflects a nationwide pattern of criminality that further victimized civilian witnesses in a federal case. Such behavior can never be accepted and I commend the NYPD investigators, federal agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in bringing these charges.”

Kelly, 53, faces child pornography and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago, while in Brooklyn, he faces a separate federal racketeering indictment. The R&B singer has been behind bars for more than a year in Chicago and maintains his innocence in both cases. 

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