One of R. Kelly’s associates has pleaded guilty of attempting to bribe a witness to not testify against the imprisoned sex abuser.
Richard Arline Jr. was indicted last summer, alongside two other men, for attempting to bribe an alleged victim of Kelly’s with $500,000 worth of hush money between May and June 2020. On Tuesday, Arline pleaded guilty to the charges during a virtual hearing that levied quite a bit of solid evidence against the 31-year-old.
Prosecutors collected recordings of phone conversations Arline had with the unnamed woman, who is said to have started a sexual relationship with Kelly when she was just 17, that contain clear-cut evidence of Arline’s motives. In one, he makes it clear that he has access to Kelly’s funds and aims to keep her from speaking with law enforcement. However, the woman says she “wouldn’t go for half a million,” and raises his offer to $1 million.
In another phone call, Arline references damning videos the woman possesses that he wants deleted on Kelly’s behalf. “They just want that to disappear. You know what I’m saying?,” he’s heard saying, according to court documents.
The prosecution team also obtained phone calls between Arline and another man in which he’s discussing the bribe and the amount of evidence the woman has against Kelly. “Like if I had a way to talk to Rob, being next to him, and telling him what’s going on, without nobody listening to, no feds, nobody, he gonna pay her ass off to be quiet,” he said according to court documents. “She got too much. She got too much.”
At the hearing, Arline didn’t have much to say of his actions. “I knew what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry,” he said after a short statement. He’s set to be sentenced in June and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
The other two men who were indicted alongside Arline last summer are still awaiting hearings. Kelly’s manager, Donnell Russell, was charged with threatening to spread nude photographs of a witness if she cooperated with law enforcement. “Pull the plug or you will be exposed,” he said in a message to her lawyer alongside cropped nude images.
Prosecutors believe that the other associate, Michael Williams, set an SUV on fire outside of a Florida home where an alleged Kelly victim had been staying. “It might be wise for you to protect your daughter from heartache she’s gonna endure through this and after,” he wrote to the woman’s father, according to his indictment. “She had to live with every stain you guys create publicly.”
Kelly is currently detained and facing multiple federal charges in Brooklyn and Chicago. Last year, he was attacked by a fellow inmate who stomped on his head while he was sleeping and planned to stab him with an ink pen.