According to the New York Times, on the morning of June 11, one of the potential witnesses believed to be testifying against Kelly found her car engulfed in flames in her driveway. An incident federal prosecutors in Brooklyn later determined was intentional. Another federal witness received an offer of half-a-million-dollars in exchange for her silence in May, although reports state money was not exchanged.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn announced three of Kelly’s allies are accused of attempting to sway the two witnesses into not testifying against him. The accusation brought against Kelly’s allies suggests that Kelly did not authorize any of the recent threats.
However, Kelly is no stranger to being suspected of witness tampering or harassment. Kelly was suspected of witness tampering leading up to his 2008 acquittal in a Chicago based trial where he faced charges related to child pornography. The suspected tampering led to the witness declining to testify.
Just last year Kelly was charged with a conspiracy to intimidate witnesses and conceal evidence by federal prosecutors in Chicago. In a separate incident that took place in 2018, a woman was threatened with the release of sexually explicit photos she sent to Kelly after filing a lawsuit against him.
The methods used by Kelly’s allies – Donnell Russell, Michael Williams and Richard Arline, Jr. - in the recent incidents include intimidation and bribery.
Russell is a friend of Kelly and is who prosecutors suspect initiated the threats of releasing sexually explicit photographs in 2018. Arline is another known friend of Kelly and is who prosecutors suspect initiated the half-a-million-dollar bribe to a witness in May. Williams is a relative of one of Kelly’s former publicist and is who prosecutors suspect set the June 11 car fire.
Arline was arrested and released on $10,000 bond in Illinois. Williams was arrested in Florida and remains in custody. Russell was arrested in California and is expected to have an initial hearing today (Thursday) by phone.
In recent months Kelly requested to be released from Chicago's federal jail on bail where he is awaiting trial for racketeering and sexual abuse charges. His claim was that he feared contracting COVID-19 like other high profile inmates such as Harvey Weinstein. Kelly was denied release on bail in April by a federal judge in New York.