Speed Reads

'designed to instill fear'

R. Kelly associate who set car on fire outside witness' home sentenced to 8 years in prison

A man has been sentenced to eight years in prison after prosecutors said he tried to intimidate a witness from testifying against R. Kelly by setting a car on fire outside of her home. 

Michael Williams, an associate of R. Kelly, received a 96-month prison sentence after he allegedly set fire to a car parked outside the home of a victim expected to testify against the R&B singer in his New York racketeering trial. The car was leased by the victim's father, and Williams poured gasoline around it and set it on fire in June 2020, prosecutors said.

"In a violent act designed to instill fear and stop a witness from testifying at trial, Williams set fire to the victim's vehicle in the middle of the night while it was parked outside of a residence occupied by four adults and two children," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. "Intimidating witnesses and threatening the safety of crime victims undermine the very fabric of our judicial system and will never be tolerated." 

Prosecutors also said Williams "previously made internet searches about the detonation properties of fertilizer and diesel fuel, witness intimidation and witness tampering, and countries that do not have extradition agreements with the United States."

R. Kelly was convicted in September on all counts in his racketeering trial after long facing allegations of sexually abusing underage girls, which he denied. He has not yet been sentenced.

Kelly's manager, Donnell Russell, was previously charged with threatening a shooting at a theater set to show a documentary about the sexual abuse allegations against the singer. And in February, Kelly associate Richard Arline pleaded guilty to trying to bribe a witness, admitting, "Me and another person offered Jane Doe money for her to not go forward with her complaint or testimony against Robert Kelly. I knew what I did was wrong."