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New charge against R. Kelly linked to his marriage to Aaliyah

The alleged bribery reportedly involved getting a fake ID in order to get a marriage license in Illinois so Kelly could marry the singer, who was 15.
Image: FILE: R. Kelly Charged With Bribery
Singer R. Kelly arrives at the Leighton Courthouse in Chicago on May 7, 2019. Federal prosecutors have charged R.Kelly with bribing an official to obtain a fake ID in order to marry 15-year-old singer Aaliyah in 1994.Nuccio DiNuzzo / Getty Images file

Singer R. Kelly was accused by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Thursday of arranging to get a fake ID in order to marry singer Aaliyah when she was 15, according to an indictment and a person familiar with the matter.

Kelly was indicted Thursday on a new count of bribery stemming from an effort in 1994 to get the fake document, according to court documents.

The person who received the fraudulent identification in Illinois is identified only as “Jane Doe #1” in the superseding indictment filed in the Eastern District of New York.

The unnamed person was R&B singer and actress Aaliyah, a person familiar with the matter told NBC News. Kelly, then 27, married Aaliyah that year. Their marriage was annulled months later.

R. Kelly is accused of bribing an official in order to get a fake ID.

The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Associated Press earlier reported that the woman was Aaliyah.

Another court document filed in that case lists marriage records for Kelly and Jane Doe #1 in Cook County as well as an annulment in Wayne County and her birth certificate in a list of discovery exhibits.

Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001.

Defense attorney Douglas C. Anton, who is handling R. Kelly's New York case, called the new bribery charge "an absolute absurdity, backed by more innuendo and baseless accusations."

"To think that the Federal Government has nothing better to do then go back 25 years and address a 'fake ID' charge makes their whole case weaker," Anton told NBC News.

The new count of racketeering related to bribery adds to racketeering and other charges previously filed in New York and Illinois.

The indictment also does not name the official in the bribery charge, except to say that Kelly caused another individual to promise cash to "a public officer and public employee."

A request for comment from another of Kelly's defense attorneys, Steven Greenberg, was not immediately returned Thursday night.

Greenberg said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" in January that Kelly was married to Aaliyah when she was 15, but that "in order to get married, she had to lie about her age."

Greenberg said in that interview that Kelly "had no idea" about her age.

The indictment filed in New York alleges that R. Kelly, now 52, and others worked to recruit and groom women and girls for illegal sexual activity and to maintain control over them, including isolating them from friends and family members.

Kelly is accused in New York of racketeering, including allegations related to the sexual exploitation of a child, kidnapping and forced labor. He has vigorously denied the allegations.

He is being held without bond and scheduled to stand trial in federal court in Chicago in April on child pornography and obstruction of justice charges before facing trial in New York.

Kelly pleaded not guilty to the federal case in Illinois in July. He pleaded not guilty to the federal case in New York case in August, according to court records.

Kelly in the past had been accused of child pornography after a videotape circulated that appeared to show him having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl. He was acquitted of all charges in 2008.