Fake attack: Disgraced Empire star, Jussie Smollett indicted … To be arraigned Feb.24
Jussie Smollett on Tuesday was once again indicted for allegedly staging a hate-crime attack against himself nearly a year after charges in the case were abruptly dropped. Cook County special prosecutor Dan Webb revealed the former “Empire” star had been hit with six new counts of disorderly conduct, accusing Smollett of lying to the Chicago Police Department about the January 2019 incident. Webb’s investigation revealed that Smollett “planned and participated in a staged crime attack,” and then “made numerous false statements … reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said in news release.
The 37-year-old actor, who is black and gay, told cops that he was jumped by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs as well as, “This is MAGA country!” at him, in an attack that involved bleach and a noose. But huge holes quickly appeared in the high-profile case, and police ultimately determined that Smollett had concocted the whole thing, paying two brothers $3,500 to stage the “attack.” On March 8, he was hit with a 16-count felony indictment for filing a false police report only for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to abruptly drop all charges later that month.
Smollett was let off the hook with the slap on the wrist in exchange forfeiting the $10,000 he had coughed up for bail and performing community service spurring outrage from police officials and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb, a former US attorney, in August to re-examine the case and look into why the charges were nixed. Toomin had blasted Foxx for not fully recusing herself from the case over texts about the investigation she’d exchanged with members of Smollett’s family.
In dropping the charges, Foxx’s office had claimed Smollett was being treated the same as other defendants who’d faced similar charges in previous cases. But Webb said prosecutors were unable to provide evidence of any similar, prior cases. Foxx’s office also couldn’t identify a shred of new evidence that arose between the initial indictment and its dismissal that would have led prosecutors to believe the case against Smollett wasn’t strong, Webb said. Webb said reviving the charges was “in the interest of justice.”
He noted his office has “reached no conclusions” about whether any officials involved in the case had engaged in wrongdoing and that part of the investigation is ongoing. Smollett’s arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 24. The “Mighty Ducks” actor faces between one to three years in jail, up to a $25,000 fine and community service if convicted on the fresh charges. He is already facing a $130,000 lawsuit from the Windy City over the cost of the police and prosecutorial work to investigate his allegedly bogus charges.
The State’s Attorney’s office declined to comment. Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said the indictment “raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation,” pointing to her client’s pending civil case against the city of Chicago and local cops for “malicious prosecution.” “One of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him,” Glandian wrote in a statement. “The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.” Vanguard