Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a special prosecutor in Illinois on six counts of making false reports to police that he was a victim of a hate crime.
Smollett, 37, had claimed to have being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his Chicago apartment on January 29, 2019. Smollett told police the two attackers also made reference to MAGA, or Make America Great Again – the slogan often used by President Donald Trump and his supporters. Friends and celebrities such as Viola Davis, Janelle Monae and TI, alongside his Empire co-stars tweeted messages of support.
Chicago police investigated the case as a hate crime but later arrested the actor as the prime suspect in the case.
The police said the actor orchestrated the incident and paid two men who were acquaintances from the TV show on which he starred — Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo — to stage the attack for publicity because he was upset with his salary on the Fox show, Empire.
However, weeks later, all charges filed against Smollett were dropped without a plea, after Smollett agreed to surrender his $10,000 bail and perform 16 hours of community service. Meanwhile, the FBI said it was still investigating the “circumstances around the case.”
Dan K. Webb, the special prosecutor assigned in August to investigate how local prosecutors handled the TV actor’s case, said in a statement his office “has now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”
“Based on the recommendation of the OSP (Office of the Special Prosecutor), a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime,” the statement said.
Smollett is scheduled to appear in court February 24.