CHICAGO -- Three men have been charged in federal court in New York with attempting to "intimidate, threaten or corruptly influence" alleged victims in the racketeering case against singer R. Kelly.
Richard Arline Jr., of Dolton, Donnell Russell, of Chicago, and Michael Williams, of Valdosta, Georgia, were each charged in separate criminal complaints and will appear in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn at a later date.
According to the charges, Arline, 31 a longtime friend of Kelly's, was captured on an FBI wiretap discussing a scheme in which one victim involved in the case would receive compensation -- including a proposed payment of $500,000 -- to keep her from cooperating with the government. Arline was arrested Tuesday in Dolton.
Another complaint accused Russell, 45, of threatening to reveal sexually explicit photographs of a different victim and "publicly reveal her sexual history" if she didn't drop a pending lawsuit against Kelly.
In November 2018, Russell, a self-proclaimed manager of Kelly's mailed a letter to the victim's lawyer in New York. The letter included nude photos of the victim and a note that said the photos were cropped "for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!" the complaint alleged.
The third man, Williams, allegedly set fire to an SUV in June that was parked outside a Florida residence where an alleged victim in Kelly's case was staying, according to the charges.
Williams, a relative of one of Kelly's former publicists, also had recently performed internet queries about the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, the complaint alleged.
"These crimes shock the conscience," Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Peter Fitzhugh said in a statement. "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 revictimizing his accusers."
Kelly, 53, who has been held without bond since his arrest on the federal charges last July, is charged with racketeering conspiracy in New York alleging he identified underage girls attending his concerts and groomed them for later sexual abuse.
Kelly is also charged in a federal indictment in Chicago with conspiring with two former employees -- longtime manager Derrel McDavid and Milton "June" Brown -- to rig his 2008 child pornography trial in Cook County by paying off witnesses and victims to change their stories.