Michael Williams, an alleged associate of embattled singer R. Kelly, has accepted a plea deal after admitting to setting fire to Azriel Clary’s car in an attempt to intimidate and silence the singer’s ex-girlfriend and alleged sexual assault victim.
Williams, who is reported by the New York Daily News to be a relative of R. Kelly’s former publicist, accepted the deal on Monday, April 19, after pleading guilty to one count of arson and admitting to the court that he “deliberately set a car on fire in someone’s driveway.”
The act was reportedly committed in an attempt to silence Clary testimony in relation to Kelly’s upcoming trial, taking place in July, where Clary is slated to appear on the stand as a prosecution witness. The “You Remind Me of Something” singer faces a number of charges including racketeering, sex trafficking, coercion, and additional charges related to the abuse of six girls and young women.
In exchange for confessing to traveling to Clary’s Florida residence in June 2020, a home rented by her father, to set fire to her car and house, Williams will have the witness tampering charge against him dropped.
“The plea agreement is fair in that the witness tampering charge as it relates to R. Kelly will be dismissed at sentencing,” said defense lawyer Todd Spodek, according to Page Six.
Williams left a trail of clues leading back to him after the act, including searching for Clary’s address two hours before the explosion and Googling “witness intimidation” and “case law for tampering with a witness,” according to court papers.
Donnell Russell and Richard Arline Jr. were charged with trying to harass, intimidate, and or threaten other accusers related to Kelly’s racketeering case, and Arline pleaded guilty in February.
Clary shared a since-deleted Instagram post updating followers after the blast, along with images of herself posing alongside her incinerated vehicle. “So, this is me at my lowest… Someone not only set my car on fire at 3am but they also made a gas line around my entire house, with intentions to burn my entire home down. It was something that was premeditated, but the fact that someone would go to that extreme to harm me is sickening...“
Williams is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 5 and at maximum could serve up to 71 months in prison.
While R. Kelly has yet to address his alleged associate’s charges, the singer’s lawyer, Steve Greenberg, denounced any association between the two on Twitter writing, “This is irresponsible to call this an RKelly associate. They have never met or spoken. Kelly had NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM OR HIS CRIME.”