Three Men Charged With Attempting to Threaten & Intimidate Alleged R. Kelly Survivors
Criminal complaints were unsealed in New York Federal Court on Tuesday charging three associates of R&B musician, R. Kelly, with attempting to bribe and threaten the singer’s alleged sexual abuse survivors. In an apparent effort to influence the survivors’ testimony in a criminal racketeering case against Kelly, the complaint alleges the three associates used threats, bribes, and intimidation tactics including setting fire to a car outside a home where an alleged survivor was residing.
The complaints list Richard Arline Jr., Donnell Russell, and Michael Williams as defendants, according to a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. The government accuses the three men of attempting to influence and delay the testimony of both alleged survivors and their parents. Additionally, prosecutors allege that Williams – R. Kelly’s former publicist – is the individual who attempted to blow up the aforementioned car, which was reportedly rented by an alleged survivor’s father while she and her family were at their Florida home in June.
“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 United States Attorney, Seth DuCharme, via the release.
“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,” DuCharme added.
The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that law enforcement officials arrested the three men earlier this week.
Steve Greenberg, an attorney representing R. Kelly, stated that his client “had nothing to do with any of these alleged acts by those charged.” “He hasn’t attempted to intimidate anyone, or encouraged anyone else to do so. No involvement whatsoever,” Greenberg said via Twitter on Wednesday.
According to the release, Arline Jr. is charged with “attempting to corruptly persuade the testimony of an alleged victim in the Kelly case, identified in the complaint as ‘Jane Doe,’ and engaging in misleading conduct towards the victim, with intent to influence, delay and prevent her testimony in the Kelly case, as well as corruptly offering something of value to the victim, with the intent to influence her testimony as a witness upon a trial, hearing and other proceeding.”
Furthermore, the release states that in a judicially authorized wiretap Arline Jr. allegedly discussed a scheme where a survivor would receive compensation — specifically a proposed payment of $500,000 — to “keep her from cooperating with the government.” During one of the recorded telephone calls, Arline Jr. claimed that “he had communicated with Kelly while Kelly was incarcerated via a three-way call with another individual.”
Arline Jr. was arrested in Dolton, Illinois, and appeared Tuesday before United States Magistrate Judge, Young B. Kim, at the federal courthouse in Chicago.
Moreover, according to the release, Russell is charged with “using the mail, the internet and cellular telephones to attempt to cause emotional distress to another individual identified in the complaint as ‘Jane Doe,’ an alleged victim in the Kelly case, as well as Jane Doe’s mother, with the intent to harass and intimidate Jane Doe and her mother.” Russell will reportedly appear before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York at a date to be determined in the near future.
In addition to the charge of “maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and an explosive,” the release indicates Williams is charged with “using and attempting to use intimidation and threats against an alleged victim in the Kelly case, with intent to influence, delay and prevent her testimony in the Kelly case.”
Williams was arrested in Pompano Beach, Florida. His initial court appearance was scheduled Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Charges were announced Tuesday by Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York Field Office, and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).
“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,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh at the time the charges were announced.
Additionally, NYPD Commissioner Shea said, “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.”
The case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes, Nadia I. Shihata, and Maria Cruz Melendez are in charge of the prosecution.