Grand Jury Slaps Jussie Smollett With 16 Felony Counts In Hate-Crime Hoax
Jussie Smollett has bigger issues than just an untreated drug problem and a single count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
A Cook County, IL grand jury has just returned a 16-count true bill of charges against the Empire star in connection with a hate crime hoax he allegedly staged in late January, as first reported by CWB Chicago and confirmed by CBS 2. The new charges each carry a potential sentence up to four years in prison if convicted, according to CWB.
Smollett was charged in February with a single count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, however today’s announcement puts him in significantly greater legal jeopardy.
The grand jury’s true bill states that Smollett lied about the attack to two separate police officers–the beat cop who took his initial report and a detective who conducted a follow-up interview the same day.
In one set of charges, the grand jury found that Smollet filed a false police report around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29th in which he told an officer that he was attacked near 341 East Lower North Water Street by two unknown men who were dressed in black and one of whom wore a ski mask. The jury further found that Smollett told the original officer that the attackers called him racial and homophobic slurs and struck him in the face with their hands. The police report connected to these charges also indicate that Smollett claimed that a noose had been placed around his neck and a “chemical” had been poured on him.
The second set of charges returned by the grand jury involves Smollett’s alleged false reporting of the incident to a police detective later the same day.Additional details that Smollett apparently included in the second interview include: the men approached him from behind, Smollett fought back, and all three men fell to the ground where Smollett said he was kicked in the back and felt someone pulling on his neck. During this interview, Smollett also told the officer that one offender was a white male wearing a black mask with an open area around the eyes that exposed the attacker’s skin, the grand jury found. –CWB Chicago
The actor claimed last month that he was the victim of a predawn hate crime on January 29 in which two men assaulted him while he was on his way home after buying a sandwich; hurling racial and antigay slurs at him, dousing him in a liquid, placing a noose around his neck (which he was still wearing when police arrived later that morning), and punching him in the face.
The incident sparked national outrage – with the left-leaning mainstream media and prominent Democrats uncritically supporting Smollett’s version of events; holding it up as a prime example of violent Donald Trump supporters.
The two suspects in the case, Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundario – one of whom has been an extra on Empire, told police that Smollett paid them a combined $3,500 to stage the “attack,” and that the three of them had practiced it beforehand. They also said that Smollett was involved in creating a racist letter containing a white substance that was sent to the actor on the Chicago set of Empire.
When the letter failed to achieve the desired level of national outrage, the Osundario brothers say Smollett concocted the hate-crime.