According to federal prosecutors in New York, three men in separate schemes have been charged for attempting to bribe the alleged victims of embattled singer and songwriter R. Kelly. R. Kelly also faces charges in New York state as well as in Chicago, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
In a federal court in Brooklyn, criminal complaints have been unsealed charging Richard Arline Jr., 31, Donnell Russell, 45, and Michael Williams, 37, in the schemes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. According to the feds, all three men are connected to Kelly.
Arline was arrested in Dolton, which is his hometown, and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Young Kim in Chicago, prosecutors said. Prosecutors described the man as “a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly.” Arline’s scheme allegedly involved discussing a $500,000 payment to a victim to stop her from cooperating with the government, according to federal agents.
Arline allegedly claimed that he had been in communication with Kelly while the singer was behind bars via a three-way call with another person, during a recorded phone call. “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,” adding she “got too much. She got too much,” Arline said.
Russell, a native of Chicago is accused of harassing and intimidating an alleged R. Kelly victim after she filed a lawsuit against the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer. Federal agents referred to him as “a self-described manager, advisor, and friend of Kelly.”
Russell is accused of threatening to share sexually explicit photos of her and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she didn’t end her lawsuit against Kelly. He also used an alias and created a Facebook page called “Surviving Lies” — a play on the title of the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.” He then shared screenshots of text messages between Kelly and the victim.
Williams, who is a resident of Georgia, is separately accused of setting fire to an SUV parked outside a Florida home, back in June. An alleged victim of Kelly’s and others had been staying at the house. Williams is described as “a relative of an individual who once served as a publicist for Kelly.”
As we previously reported, the singer is charged with child pornography and obstruction of justice in a federal indictment in Chicago. Kelly also faces a separate federal racketeering indictment in Brooklyn.
For over a year, the Chicago native has been held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Windy City. The artist’s legal team repeatedly sought to have Kelly freed this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they are challenging his detention before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, prosecutors have repeatedly suggested the singer might attempt to interfere with the case against him. Earlier this year, they said a prison staff member gave the singer permission to use a telephone to contact a third party, a call that “was not recorded and obviously circumvented the protocols in place to ensure monitoring of the defendant’s communications.” The troubled singer’s attorneys have said he “simply has no means or method by which to engage in any obstructive conduct.”
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.