The latest chapter in the Jussie Smollett attack case took a dramatic turn on March 8 when the ‘Empire’ star was hit with 16 felony counts for allegedly filing a false police report.
UPDATE (3/27/19), 9:30 PM EST: The FBI is now reportedly reviewing “the circumstances” surrounding “the dismissal” of Jussie Smollett’s 16 felony disorderly conduct charges on March 26, which two unnamed law enforcement officials confirmed to ABC7. HollywoodLife has reached out to the FBI for comment.
UPDATE (3/26/19), 11:35 AM EST: The charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett — over allegedly staging a racial attack against himself in Chicago on January 29 — have all been dropped, his Chicago-based attorney Ronald Safer confirms to HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television issued the following statement (on March 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM EST) in wake of this development: “Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed.”
ORIGINAL: Jussie Smollett, 36, has been hit with 16 felony charges for allegedly filing a false police report when he claimed that he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in January. A Cook County grand jury returned the indictment on March 7, according to ABC 7 Chicago. The charges have been confirmed by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Empire star had already been charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct on Feb. 20 for filing a false police report.
Jussie drew headlines when he claimed that he was attacked by two strangers in his Chicago neighborhood on Jan. 29. He alleged that the two men physically assaulted him and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him, as well as flinging a chemical substance in his face and putting a noose around his neck. Within a month, after an investigation, Chicago police arrested Jussie alleging that he paid two brothers – Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo – to beat him up. He was released after posting $100,000 bail.
These indictments are reportedly related to two separate sets of charges, according to ABC 7 Chicago – one set for what Jussie told officers about the alleged hate crime and the other set is related to his second interview with cops. HollywoodLife has reached out to the actor’s lawyers, rep and FOX (which airs Empire) for comment, but we have yet to receive a response. As for how much time Jussie faces, Illinois State criminal defense attorney Dustin Smith, tells HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY, “The sentencing range for prison time is between one and three years. I know there are a lot of charges, but in most situations, charges that stem out of the same conduct are not served in a consecutive sentence. What that means is that Jussie’s 16 charges won’t be multiplied by one to three years. It’s more likely to be a total of one to three years.” He added, “If Jussie received only probation, the period of probation would not exceed 30 months.”
Jussie has repeatedly denied allegations that he orchestrated a fake hate crime. And after the news of the 16 felony charges emerged, Jussie’s lawyer Mark Geragos told HollywoodLife, “The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie. This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”
HollywoodLife will keep you updated as this story develops.