Jussie Smollett is now “officially classified” as a suspect in a criminal investigation for allegedly filing a false police report.
According to a tweet from Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, this is a Class 4 felony and detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County grand jury.
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
If the 36-year-old “Empire” actor is charged, he could face one to three years in prison.
Smollett filed a report with the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 claiming that he was assaulted by two masked men. They hurled racist and homophobic slurs, poured an unknown chemical substance on him, and put a noose around his neck.
Two brothers, Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, were questioned by police, claiming Smollett staged the “attack” and paid them $3,500. The men are cooperating with law enforcement and records show they purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.
Smollett’s attorneys met with Cook County prosecutors on Wednesday, according to Chicago Police spokesman Tom Ahern.
The actor, who plays Jamal Lyon on “Empire,” has denied allegations that he orchestrated the attack. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett’s attorneys said in a statement.
20th Century Fox Television, which produces “Empire,” has also denied reports that he is being written off the series. “Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show,” said Fox in a statement.
UPDATE: Jussie Smollett has officially been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. He faces up to three years in prison.
“Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report,” tweeted Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”
A Cook County Grand Jury indicted the “Empire” star late Wednesday after grand jurors heard testimonies and evaluated evidence. The two brothers told jurors they staged the “attack” and were paid for it.
Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
UPDATE 2: Smollett was arrested by Chicago police on Thursday morning on suspicion of filing a false report. He reportedly paid two men $3,500 to help him stage the hate crime hoax after a threatening letter he sent to the “Empire” set failed to get attention.
Investigators believe Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series.
Smollett, who faces as many as three years in prison, is said to have orchestrated the Jan. 29 assault during which the men yelled racist and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck. “This is MAGA country,” the attackers were reported to have said.
“Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” asked Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson during a news conference. “How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?”
President Trump reacted to Smollett’s arrest, tweeting, “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
A judge has set a $100,000 bond for Smollett and he must surrender his passport.