the law

R. Kelly Associate Pleads Guilty to Arson After Torching Alleged Victim’s SUV in Florida

Photo: E. JASON WAMBSGANS/AFP via Getty Images

In August, three associates of R. Kelly were arrested for allegedly attempting to intimidate and threaten women who have accused the singer of sexual abuse and harassment. On Monday, one of those men, Michael Williams, pleaded guilty to arson, according to the New York Daily News, after setting an SUV, parked outside an alleged victim’s Florida home, on fire. Williams, reportedly a relative of Kelly’s former publicist, identified in court documents as “I-1,” will be sentenced on October 5 and could face up to 71 months in prison.

On Monday in Brooklyn Federal Court, Williams admitted to Judge Ann Donnelly that he “deliberately set a car on fire in someone’s driveway,” as part of a plea deal that will dismiss a related witness-tampering charge. Per the initial police report, on June 11, Williams set a black SUV alight; authorities later found evidence of an accelerant on the property. A man also living in the residence told police he “saw an individual fleeing from the scene of the fire, whose arm appeared to be lit on fire.”

One of the other men arrested and charged in August, Richard Arline, pleaded guilty in February to attempting to bribe an R. Kelly accuser into staying silent, while the third, Donnell Russell, pleaded not guilty in October to threatening one of the singer’s accusers, and was in plea negotiations as of November.

“Kelly has nothing to do with this — nothing to do with it at all,” R. Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg told Vulture at the time of the trio’s arrest this summer. “He’s never reached out to a witness, he’s never tried to intimidate a witness.” According to the Daily News, the accuser targeted by Williams is allegedly one of the victims testifying in the singer’s upcoming racketeering trial, scheduled to take place in Brooklyn this July.

R. Kelly Associate Pleads Guilty to Arson After Torching SUV