Chicago Mayor Says They're About To Sue Jussie Smollett
Chicago, IL – Attorneys for Jussie Smollett have said the actor has no intention of paying the $130,106.15 bill the police sent him to help defray the cost of the hoax hate crime the actor staged against himself.
In fact, the city of Chicago owes their client an apology, Smollett’s attorneys told People in a written statement.
“It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie – owe him an apology – for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough,” the statement said.
“Jussie did not do this crime and the charges have been dropped. He has always told the truth. His name is being dragged through the mud by a group of city leaders more focused on fighting each other than anything else,” the statement continued. “We won’t participate in this back and forth. He deserves to move on with his life.”
The demand letter sent to Smollett on Thursday by Chicago Corporation Counsel Edward Siskel gave the actor seven days to pay the balance in full or risk prosecution for non-payment.
Despite initial assertions from Smollett’s attorneys that the bill will not be paid, experts said that the “Empire” star is opening up a whole new can of worms if he doesn’t repay the city lickety-split.
The mayor has said the city will file a civil lawsuit against Smollett for repayment of the monies and resources wasted on investigating the hoax attack the actor staged, TMZ reported.
Chicago could theoretically end up being awarded as much as three times the initial demand – a little more than $390,000 – as a penalty for non-payment.
But first, in order to fight the tab for the investigation in court, Smollett’s hoax attack case will have to be fully litigated in order for the judge to determine if the attack was actually fake, according to TMZ.
Only after that has been determined can a judge decide if, and how much, the actor owes the city of Chicago.
Furthermore, the law only requires the judge to believe with 51 percent certainty that Smollett faked the attack for the civil lawsuit. The burden of proof is significantly lower than in a criminal trial, TMZ reported.
If Smollett loses the case against the city, Chicago will be able to freeze his bank accounts and garnish his wages, including his salary from “Empire.”
FOX has not yet announced whether the television series in which Smollett stars will be renewed for another season.
The ratings have been in a massive downward slump since "Empire" returned to the air after Smollett was first arrested.
“Empire” had the lowest viewership ever on Wednesday night after the chargers were dropped and Smollett’s shady dealings with the state’s attorney’s office became public.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
However, investigators quickly figured out that something was amiss, and then identified Smollett’s attackers.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
Smollett was initially charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct on Feb. 20 for making a false police report. A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 counts related to the same crime on March 8 and the prosecutor brought those charges against the actor.
Without any warning to city leaders, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all 16 felony counts against Smollett on March 26, in exchange for the actor forfeiting his $10,000 bond and 16 hours of community service.
Both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were furious over the disposition of the Smollett case, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has found herself in hot water over her overall handling of the case.
Foxx initially said she was recusing herself because she had been talking with Smollett’s family members, but later claimed she had only recused herself “colloquially” because she had no actual conflict of interest.
President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be investigating the deal Cook County prosecutors made with Smollett.
Several major attorneys associations released statements calling Foxx’s handling of the case “highly unusual” and not the way things are supposed to be done. And the Chicago police union has scheduled a protest to demand the state’s attorney’s resignation.
As for the apology that Smollett’s attorneys said they wanted for their client, it’s not likely to be forthcoming anytime in the future.
“The apology comes from the person who did that. If you want to say you’re innocent of a situation, then you take your day in court,” Superintendent Johnson said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The mayor has expressed similar feelings on the matter and said the city is owed an apology by Smollett.