Three separate criminal complaints were unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn charging defendants Richard Arline, Jr., Donnell Russell and Michael Williams, respectively, with crimes relating to their efforts to harass, intimidate, threaten or corruptly influence individuals named as alleged victims in the racketeering case against Robert Sylvester Kelly, also known as “R. Kelly,” currently pending in the Eastern District of New York (the Kelly case).
Arline, Jr. is charged with attempting to corruptly persuade the testimony of an alleged victim in the Kelly case, identified in the complaint as “Jane Doe,” and engaging in misleading conduct towards the victim, with intent to influence, delay and prevent her testimony in the Kelly case, as well as corruptly offering something of value to the victim, with the intent to influence her testimony as a witness upon a trial, hearing and other proceeding. Arline, Jr. was arrested earlier today in Dolton, Illinois, and his initial appearance took place yesterday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim at the federal courthouse in Chicago, Illinois.
A second criminal complaint charges Russell with using the mail, the internet and cellular telephones to attempt to cause emotional distress to another individual identified in the complaint as “Jane Doe,” an alleged victim in the Kelly case, as well as Jane Doe’s mother, with the intent to harass and intimidate Jane Doe and her mother. Russell’s initial appearance will take place before a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York at a date to be determined in the near future.
A third criminal complaint charges Williams with using and attempting to use intimidation and threats against an alleged victim in the Kelly case, with intent to influence, delay and prevent her testimony in the Kelly case. The complaint also charges Williams with maliciously damaging and destroying a vehicle by means of fire and an explosive. Williams was arrested yesterday in Pompano Beach, Florida, and his initial appearance is scheduled for this morning at the federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York Field Office, and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“The defendants are separately charged with engaging in multiple crimes that were intended to undermine and subvert the integrity of the criminal justice system and victimize the women who have come forward with serious allegations of criminal conduct against the defendant R. Kelly,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. “Efforts to illegally influence pending federal cases, whether through threats of violence, intimidation, damage to property, or payments to buy a potential witness’s silence, will not be tolerated.”
Mr. DuCharme expressed his grateful appreciation to the HSI Field Offices in Chicago, Illinois, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Long Beach, California, and Tampa, Florida; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Field Offices in Savannah, Georgia, and Tampa, Florida; the Florida Bureau of Fire, Arson & Explosives Investigations; the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, Florida, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Florida, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Florida and the Valdosta Police Department, Georgia, for their assistance in these cases.
“These crimes shock the conscience. 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. These acts not only fly in the face of human decency, they insult the very rule of law. HSI will continue to bring the full force of our investigative powers to pursue those seeking to attack witnesses and pervert the cause of justice. To the victims of these and other crimes: we stand with you. We will meet your bravery with our resolve to keep you safe to tell your story,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Fitzhugh.
“The bribery, intimidation and violence alleged in these complaints reflects a nationwide pattern of criminality that further victimized civilian witnesses in a federal case. Such behavior can never be accepted and I commend the NYPD investigators, federal agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in bringing these charges,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
The Arline, Jr. Complaint
As alleged, between January 9, 2020 and June 2020, Arline, Jr., a self-proclaimed longtime friend of Kelly, attempted to illegally influence the cooperation and testimony of an alleged victim in the Kelly case. After learning of Arline Jr.’s plan, the victim contacted law enforcement, and under the supervision of law enforcement authorities, continued to communicate with him. During a series of consensually recorded telephone calls, as well as in calls and texts captured pursuant to a judicially authorized wiretap, Arline, Jr. discussed a scheme in which the victim would receive compensation, including a proposed payment of $500,000, to keep her from cooperating with the government. During one of the recorded telephone calls, Arline, Jr. claimed that he had communicated with Kelly while Kelly was incarcerated via a three-way call with another individual.
The intercepted communications also include Arline, Jr. discussing plans to pay the victim “to be quiet,” explaining that “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” because “[s]he got too much. She got too much.”
The Russell Complaint
As alleged, between November 2018 and February 2020, Russell, a self-described manager, advisor and friend of Kelly, used the mail, telephones and the internet to harass and intimidate Jane Doe, an alleged victim in the Kelly case, and her mother after Jane Doe filed a civil lawsuit against R. Kelly. Specifically, Russell threatened to reveal sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe and to publicly reveal her sexual history if she did not withdraw her lawsuit against Kelly and “cease her participation and association with the organizers” of a “negative campaign” against Kelly. In November 2018, Russell caused a letter with attachments purportedly written by Kelly to be mailed to Jane Doe’s Brooklyn-based lawyer at the time. The attachments included cropped nude photographs of Jane Doe with the following text: “the next two pictures have been cropped for the sake of not exposing her extremities to the world, yet!!!” In December 2018, Russell, using his alias “Colon Dunn,” sent a series of text messages to Jane Doe and her mother, which contained the same photographs of Jane Doe, and stating “Just a sample. We will seek criminal charges. You’ve been warned,” as well as “Publishing soon” and “[T]his is Colon.”
On January 3, 2019, Russell allegedly sent additional text messages to Jane Doe and her mother, stating, “Pull the plug or you will be exposed.” On January 6, 2019, Russell, using the Colon Dunn alias, created a Facebook Page named “Surviving Lies,” a play on the title of Lifetime’s “Surviving R Kelly” documentary, and posted screen shots of text messages between Kelly and Jane Doe, which contained the same sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe. In late January 2020, Russell appeared on two live interviews with “vloggers” discussing Kelly’s legal troubles, which were streamed live on the internet via YouTube. Russell again displayed the same sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe and broadcast them publicly over the internet.
The Williams Complaint
As alleged, on or about June 11, 2020, Williams, a relative of an individual who once served as a publicist for Kelly, set fire to an SUV parked outside a residence in Florida where an alleged victim in the Kelly case and others were staying. The vehicle, leased by the victim’s father, was heavily damaged. Fire investigators also detected an accelerant along the outside perimeter of the residence. Cell site records, surveillance footage, toll records and photographs, and Williams’ internet searches for the victim’s address, revealed that Williams had driven from Georgia to the Florida residence. Williams also performed internet queries about the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering, and countries that do not have extradition with the United States.
The charges in the complaints are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth A. Geddes, Nadia I. Shihata and Maria Cruz Melendez are in charge of the prosecution.
RICHARD ARLINE, JR.
DONNELL RUSSELL, also known as “Don Russell” and “Colon Dunn”
E.D.N.Y. Docket Nos: 20-MJ-239; 20-MJ-629; 20-MJ-630