R. Kelly associate admits to setting accuser Azriel Clary’s SUV on fire

Michael Williams faces a minimum of 60 months in federal prison and a maximum of 71 months

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Michael Williams, an associate of R. Kelly, took a plea deal Monday for harassing and intimidating a woman who accused the embattled singer of sexual abuse. 

Williams, 38, allegedly tried to silence Kelly’s ex-girlfriend Azriel Clary, a witness in his racketeering case, by setting an SUV her father had rented on fire. Per Page Six, Williams pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to one count of arson for destroying the vehicle that was parked in front of the family’s Kissimmee, Florida, home on June 11. Hours before the attack, Williams reportedly used his cellphone to search for Curry’s address. The Georgia native was also captured on toll plaza cameras traveling from the Peach State to Florida and then back after the crime was committed. 

Read More: Judge: R. Kelly to be moved to NYC for sex-trafficking trial

When the car was set ablaze, a witness saw “an individual fleeing from the scene whose arm appeared to be lit on fire.” According to the criminal complaint, Williams Googled “How do fertilizer bombs work?” along with the phrases “witness intimidation” and “case law for tampering with a witness.”

R Kelly
Joycelyn Savage (R) and Azriel Clary arrive for a bond hearing for R&B singer R. Kelly (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As part of the deal, prosecutors will drop the witness tampering charge against Williams. He faces a minimum of 60 months in federal prison and a maximum of 71 months. 

“The plea agreement is fair in that the witness tampering charge as it relates to R. Kelly will be dismissed at sentencing,” said defense lawyer Todd Spodek.

In August, R. Kelly’s former manager was charged for calling in a gun threat to a media screening of Surviving R. Kelly early in 2018. theGRIO reported, Donnell Russell, 45, was charged with two counts of threatening physical harm by interstate communication, and conspiracy to do the same, according to the Associated Press. Federal prosecutors say he called in a gun threat to the NeueHouse theater in New York City in an attempt to prevent the screening of the Lifetime documentary on Dec. 4, 2018. 

The event was attended by several Kelly accusers and #MeToo supporters who were prepared to host a Q&A about the alleged accusations against the R&B hitmaker. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and at least seven of Kelly’s alleged victims attended the event, including his ex-wife, Drea Kelly.  According to reports, 15 minutes after the documentary began, two anonymous callers to the theatre threatened that someone had a gun, prompting an evacuation and ultimate cancellation of the screening. 

In addition to Williams and Russell, Kelly associate Richard Arline Jr. has also been charged with threatening, harassing, and trying to bribe Kelly’s alleged victims. The three men are accused of “re-victimizing his accusers.”

Read More: Azriel Clary says she receives R. Kelly backlash from Black community

R. Kelly
(Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

Arline, a longtime friend of Kelly, offered one accuser $500,000 to keep quiet about her experience with the hitmaker. He pleaded guilty in February. Russell reportedly released sexually explicit photos of a victim after she filed a lawsuit against R. Kelly. He reportedly published the images on a Facebook page and shared them during a YouTube live vlog in January.

“These crimes shock the conscience,” Peter Fitzhugh, a special agent-in-charge with Homeland Security Investigations, who worked on Kelly’s sex crimes case in New York, said in a statement last August. “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.”

R. Kelly is facing sex crimes charges in Chicago, where he is currently jailed and awaiting trial that is expected to begin this fall. His racketeering and fraud trail in Brooklyn is set to kick off in August.

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