Three men were busted for allegedly trying to intimidate and bribe victims in R. Kelly’s sex-trafficking case — including setting a car on fire outside one accuser’s home and offering another half a million dollars for her silence, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Richard Arline Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams were charged with trying to harass, intimidate, threaten or corruptly influence victims in Robert Sylvester Kelly’s racketeering case pending in Brooklyn federal court, officials said.
Williams, a longtime friend of Kelly’s, allegedly set alight a black SUV that had been rented by one victim’s father in the early morning hours of June 11, court documents say.
The car was parked in front of a home in Kissimmee, Florida, where the woman was staying with her father and several others. After hearing an explosion, a witness went outside and saw “an individual fleeing from the scene whose arm appeared to be lit on fire,” according to the complaint.
Fire investigators found an accelerant on the perimeter of the property. And just two hours before the blaze, Williams allegedly used his cellphone to search the Florida address, prosecutors said.
Ten days after the fire, he allegedly Googled “How do fertilizer bombs work?”
He was arrested in Pompano, Beach, Florida on Tuesday.
Arline, meanwhile, allegedly offered another accuser in the case $500,000 to influence her trial testimony, according to prosecutors.
An unnamed associate texted the woman, “Rob is trying to get his cousin rich in contact with you because he wants to pay you for silence,” then during a May 26, 2020 phone call, Arline allegedly offered her $500,000 and said that R. Kelly, 53, had authorized the sum.
Unbeknownst to Arline, she had already notified the feds, and agents were listening in on the call. He was arrested Wednesday in Dolton, Illinois.
And Russell allegedly harassed another victim and her mother online and by telephone on behalf of the jailed R&B crooner.
The victim was 19 when she met Kelly at a Texas concert, and during their brief fling, flew all over the country meeting the singer in studios and hotel rooms for trysts. She later filed a lawsuit alleging he’d given her herpes.
Russell, in an attempt to get her to withdraw the suit, allegedly helped draft a menacing letter signed by Kelly, to her civil lawyer threatening to release partially nude photos of her.
On Dec. 4, 2018, Russell emailed the compromising images to employees of A&E with the subject line “Survivors Exposed.” The network owns Lifetime, which produced the documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” which aired a few months later.
Russell is expected to appear on the charges at a later date in Brooklyn federal court.
The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, 53, is charged with more than a dozen criminal counts of sex-trafficking, racketeering, coercion and other raps related to the abuse of six women and girls.
He faces a separate indictment in Chicago, where he is charged with producing child pornography and destroying evidence.