Jussie Smollett Charged With Felony For Filing False Police Report
Chicago, IL – The Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office for Cook County announced it was filing felony charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on Wednesday evening, shortly after brothers who said they helped stage the attack on the actor testified before a grand jury.
Robert Foley, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said that felony disorderly conduct charges against Smollett had been approved for filing a false police report, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
The charge is a Class 4 felony, and Foley said the actor was expected to appear in bond court on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
Earlier on Feb. 20, Chicago police confirmed that Smollett had become a suspect in his own attack, just hours after it was announced that he had hired the criminal defense attorney who represented Michael Jackson and Colin Kaepernick.
At the time of the announcement, Ola and Abel Osundairo were in a grand jury room at Leighton Criminal Courthouse testifying that Smollett paid them to stage the Jan. 29 attack, and even paid for the rope use to make the noose.
Additionally, surveillance video was released on Wednesday that showed the Osundairo brothers purchasing a red hat and black ski masks, allegedly at the direction of Smollett.
All of that was happening because Smollett allegedly lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29, the Associated Press reported.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett, 36, told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off, according to the Associated Press.
The actor told police that he returned to his own apartment and that his manager called police for him about 40 minutes later, according to Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Smollett went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment of the lacerations on his face and neck at the suggestion of police officers.
Police initially investigated the attack as a possible hate crime, Guglielmi said.
Smollett is a well-known and vocal LGBTQ activist in addition to his entertainment career, according to the Associated Press.
However, the narrative began to turn after Chicago police reviewed hundreds of hours of closed-circuit camera footage from city cameras and private security cameras in the heavily-trafficked area searching for video of the incident, and found no evidence of the attack, Billboard reported.
Speculation about the report being false continued to grow after Smollett refused to allow the Chicago police access to his phone to confirm his story that he was attacked while talking to his manager.
His manager told police that he heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
Thirteen days after the assault, partial, redacted phone records were provided to investigators but police said that what was provided wasn’t enough for their criminal investigation.
On Feb. 13, Smollett went on Good Morning America and told the world he was a victim, and said nobody would be doubting his story if he had claimed his attackers were minorities.
"It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more, and that says a lot about the place we are in our country right now," Smollett said.
The very next morning, Chicago police announced they had identified two persons of interest “through meticulous investigation.”
On Feb. 15, police arrested two Nigerian brothers in Chicago’s O’Hare airport on suspicion that they may have been involved in the crime.
Ola and Abel Osundairo had both been extras on “Empire,” and were friends of Smollett, WBBM reported.
They searched the men’s apartment and found rope matching what was used to create the noose in the attack on Smollett, as well as magazines with missing pages that may have been used to create the threatening letter.
The Osundairo brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 for the staged attack, and that the three of them actually rehearsed it ahead of time, WBBM reported.
They were supposed to have been paid another $500 when they returned from Nigeria. They left Chicago on a trip to Nigeria the day after the attack.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the Osundairo brothers said in a joint statement to WBBM on Monday.
Smollett had previously told police he wanted to press charges against his attackers when they were found; however, he changed his tune and refused to sign complaints against the Osundairo brothers, claiming that he felt badly for them.
TMZ reported that detectives thought it was strange that Smollett was able to point out cameras near the area where he was attacked.
And the only people of interest captured on any of the cameras along the actor’s route home the night of the attack turned out to be the Osundairo brothers.
Investigators tracked down the brothers by their movements to and from nearby Smollett’s apartment building on the night of the alleged attack, TMZ reported.
Police sources said the men left the scene in a taxi or rideshare car, and then changed cars on the way home.
“It was almost like a bad spy movie,” a police source told TMZ.
The “Empire” star added Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos to his already impressive cadre of lawyers on Wednesday.
Geragos has represented beleaguered celebrities including Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Chris Brown, P. Diddy, and most recently, Colin Kaepernick, WBBM reported.
Smollett had already hired criminal defense attorney Michael Monico, a former federal prosecutor who also recently represented Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, according to the New York Post.
His defense team is headed up by Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, WBBM reported.