CHICAGO, IL—”Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is facing new felony charges in Chicago for the alleged homophobic and racist attack the actor reported in January 2019.
A grand jury handed the new indictment against Smollett on Tuesday, February 11 with six felony counts for lying to law enforcement. The indictment calls the six charges “disorderly conduct,” but all six counts involve allegations of lying to authorities.
The new charges, which have gone down to 6 from 16, are due to Smollett’s alleged hate crime that he argued transpired at the hands of two Caucasian males who were wearing Make America Great Again hats. Smollett claimed the two men placed a rope around his neck and doused him with bleach, all while yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him. Video footage and information later confirmed that it was two African-American males who staged the attack at the bequest of Smollett. Those individuals were identified as Ola and Abel Osundairo, brothers whose family immigrated from Nigeria. The appeared as extras on “Empire” with Smollett. The brothers traveled to Nigeria the day of the attack and arrived back into O’Hare airport on February 13, 2019. Police met them at the gates and took them into custody. Both brothers indicated that Jussie paid them to partake in the attack.
The Chicago Police Department raided their home and recovered several items, including the receipt to the rope that was around Smollett’s neck, a magazine that was used to send the threatening letter to Smollett, bleach and other items.
After the Osundairo brothers were advised they are being charged for the battery, they proceeded to reveal the details of the orchestrated hoax. According to the two, Smollett paid them $3,500 with the promise to receive $500 more after they returned from Nigeria. They admitted to rehearsing the “attack” a few days before.
Cook County prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts against Smollett in March 2019, but did not exonerate Smollett. In August 2019, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed to investigate how the case was handled in order to determine if there was any reason to renew charges.
Smollett will be arraigned on Friday, February 24, 2020 and can face up to 3 years in state prison if convicted as charged. He also faces civil charges from the city of Chicago for filing a false police report, where the city is seeking more than $500,000 from the actor.
Written By Brenda De La Cruz and Casey Jacobs