R. Kelly associate pleads guilty to arson, evades witness tampering charges

R. Kelly associate pleads guilty to arson, evades witness tampering charges
R. Kelly (Photo credit: Shutterstock.com / Jamie Lamor Thompson)

R. Kelly’s legal troubles don’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon as one of his associates has taken a plea deal in the singer’s sexual abuse case. Michael Williams, a relative of a former publicist for the “12 Play” crooner, pleaded guilty to an arson charge on Monday, April 19, 2021, in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. He admitted to Judge Ann Donnelly that he deliberately
set a car on fire in someone’s driveway and also pleaded guilty to harassing and intimidating a woman who accused the R&B singer of sexual abuse.

Williams, 38, was accused of trying to silence one of Kelly’s ex-girlfriends, Azriel Clary, a witness in the singer’s racketeering case, by setting an SUV her father had rented on fire. According to the New York Post‘s Page Six column, Williams pleaded guilty to one count of arson for destroying the vehicle that was parked in front of the family’s Kissimmee, Florida, home on June 11, 2020.

Williams, a resident of Georgia, reportedly used his cellphone to search for Clary’s address hours before the attack. He also was captured on toll plaza cameras traveling from Georgia to Florida and then back to Georgia after the crime was committed.

A witness also saw “an individual fleeing from the scene whose arm appeared to be lit on fire” during the crime. The criminal complaint also read that Williams did a Google search for “How do fertilizer bombs work?” along with the phrases “witness intimidation” and “case law for tampering with a witness.”

As part of the deal, prosecutors will drop the witness tampering charge against Williams. “The plea agreement is fair in that the witness tampering charge as it relates to R. Kelly will be dismissed at sentencing,” Williams’ defense lawyer, Todd Spodek, told The Associated Press.

On April 15, a federal judge approved a request to move  Kelly to New York City to go on trial this summer after several delays in his sex trafficking case.  The “Step In The Name Of Love” singer has been in jail in Chicago, where he could face a second trial in the fall in another federal case related to a sprawling sex crimes investigation.

Kelly is facing charges in New York alleging that for more than 20 years he was the leader of a racketeering enterprise made up of managers, bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants and runners who recruited women and girls to engage in illicit sexual activity with the platinum-selling vocalist and songwriter.

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