Jussie Smollett Indicted On 16 Felony Counts By Chicago Grand Jury

Bessie Dean
March 10, 2019

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who authorities say filed false reports of a crime, has been indicted on 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury.

The actor, who is now on bail, was suspended from Empire in February over the case, with his character written out of the last two episodes of the show's current season.

Each of the charges carries a potential sentence of up to four years, though local media reports "experts" believe he might strike a plea deal to avoid prison.

The grand jury's indictment is split into two separate sets of charges, the first pertaining to what Smollett initially told officers about the attack, while the second set are related to a second interview Smollett gave police later in the day on the 29th.

The indictment charges Smollett with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

Smollett received eight counts for what he told a police officer and eight more for what he told a detective.

One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

The actor was released after he posted $10,000 of his $100,000 bond.

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Smollett was arrested February 21, and at a court hearing that same day, prosecutors alleged he had paid the two men, Abimbola "Abel" Osundairo and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, to help him stage the attack. He also said that the attackers looped a rope around his neck.

In January, Smollett told police that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a sandwich shop in the early morning on Jan. 29.

Smollett himself, according to reports in media citing unnamed sources, apologised last month to the cast and crew on the set of Empire but maintained his innocence.

Police say they have a cheque, signed by Mr Smollett, which showed that he had agreed to pay the brothers $3500.

In a press conference, Supt Johnson called the alleged scheme "shameful", adding: "Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?"

Smollett, who was given the presumption of being a victim until the latter stages of the investigation, was the third person arrested in the case.

Geragos said the indictment was designed, in part, "to distract from the internal investigation".

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