Actor Jussie Smollett is looking at new felony charges in the Jan. 2019 incident where he allegedly faked a racial and homophobic hate crime, our sister site Variety reports. On Feb. 11, 2020, a grand jury indicted him on six counts related to the incident. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office originally indicted Jussie on 16 counts in Feb. 2019 for filing a false police statement. But a month later, the state’s attorney Kim Foxx shockingly dropped all of the charges in exchange for Jussie forfeiting his $10K bond. It outraged the Chicago Police Department, which turned around and sued Jussie, 37, for the overtime expenses while investigating his hate crime claims.
In a statement from the from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released to HollywoodLife.com, it reads, “As the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office does in all cases, the Special Prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending.”
After Foxx’s controversial move where she was accused of giving Jussie special treatment, a retired judge asked for a special prosecutor to reopen the case. Retired U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb appointed in Aug. 2019 to review the investigation. TMZ reports that Webb says Jussie, “planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Dept. officers.” The site reports that the new charges were re-filed “in the interest of justice.” They add that Jussie will appear in court for arraignment on Feb. 24, and if convicted he faces three years in state prison.
“Several factors went into this determination, including the extensive nature of Mr. Smollett’s false police reports, and the resources expended by the Chicago Police Department to investigate these false reports,” Webb said in a statement obtained by Variety. He also said that state’s attorney’s office had “failed to offer a good reason for dismissing the charges,” and that he’s working on a report on the prosecutors’ conduct, which will be released at a later time.
Jussie claimed to Chicago Police that on Jan. 29, 2019, he was attacked by two men who beat him, hurled racial and homophobic epithets, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck. He went so far as to claim one of the men shouted this was “MAGA country,” at him, which is a reference to supporters of President Donald Trump.
After an extensive investigation, detectives learned that Jussie allegedly paid two brothers that he knew to stage the attack on him. Abel and Ola Osundairo made the confession to police, saying Jussie paid them $3,500. Abel was friends with Jussie, as he played a stand-in for the actor’s love interest on Empire. He also worked with him as Jussie’s personal trainer. Jussie claimed in a Feb. 14, 2019 police interview that his attackers where white, and that the brothers couldn’t be the culprits because they were “black as sin.” Jussie has stood by his original story and maintained his innocence in lying to the cops.
Foxx’s decision outraged the Chicago Police Department and the city’s mayor. ”I stand behind the detectives’ investigation,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a March 26, 2019 press conference following Foxx’s move. “Do I think justice was served? No — I think this city is still owed an apology.” Then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel criticized the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office decision, saying “This is a whitewash of justice,” and that, “A grand jury could not have been clearer.”