Jussie Smollett has officially been indicted by a grand jury. The actor has maintained his innocence.
The “Empire” actor was originally arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report on Feb. 21. Now, according to ABC, “The grand jury has returned 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.” Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed the indictment, which was returned by the grand jury on Thursday.
ABC also reports, “The grand jury returned two separate sets of charges. The first set are related to what Smollett told officers about the alleged attack, including that the attackers called him racial and homophobic slurs, struck him with his their hands, put a noose around his neck, and poured some sort of chemical substance on him.”
As of now, he is not facing jail time, only a possible sentence of probation to four years.
On Jan. 29, while walking to a subway, Smollett claimed two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, investigators told The Hollywood Reporter. They allegedly punched and poured bleach on him while one of the suspects put a rope around his neck. As they fled the scene, Smollett told police they said, “This is MAGA country.”
The Chicago Police Department claimed the Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo told them the attack was orchestrated by the “Empire” actor and that they were paid $3,500. However, TMZ reported the FBI said the Chicago Police were “overstating” and “went too far” when they said Jussie sent a hateful Jan. 22 letter to himself.
TMZ also reported, “We’re told authorities are trying to determine if the pages have the lettering found in the letter. They’re also checking the postage stamp against the stamps found in the brothers’ apartment.” The Nigerian brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, denied sending the letter.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson may have also gone too far when he said Jussie paid the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack. TMZ reports they “obtained documents that on the surface back his claim the $3,500 check he wrote to Abel was for training. The check was written to Abel on January 23, 2019, six days before the ‘attack.’ The memo line reads, ‘5 week Nutrition/Workout program Don’t Go.'” “Don’t Go” is a song for a music video where he would appear shirtless.
Smollett pled not guilty to the first disorderly conduct charge.