Jussie Smollett, the gay star of TV’s Empire, is not only facing charges he faked his assault on January 29.
His scenes won’t appear the final two episodes of the show, according to the producers. Worse, prosecutors in court yesterday read aloud text exchanges between Smollett and the brothers he identified as his attackers.
The official charge is “felony disorderly conduct,” and if convicted the actor faces between one and three years in prison.
Yesterday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the media that Smollett paid two brothers $35K to stage an attack on him in order to advance his career. In the afternoon bond hearing that followed, prosecutors said they believe the actor sent a threatening letter to himself that ultimately proved to contain crushed Advil.
When that didn’t get him the attention he sought, he enlisted Ola and Abel Osundario to help him stage an assault that would resemble a hate crime.
The day after Smollett received the letter, January 25, prosecutors say Smollett texted Abel, whom he asked to meet him in person to discuss something “on the low.” Authorities believe that on a drive to Abel’s apartment later that day, Smollett concocted the idea of a faked attack carried out by the brothers.
The judge heard prosecutors claim that Smollett himself came up with many of the details that emerged later, including being called “Empire fa**ot” and “Empire ni**er,” and told “this is MAGA country.” The prosecution also believes it was Smollett who conceived of the noose and chose bleach to replace his original idea of being doused with gasoline.
Smollett allegedly wrote the brothers a $3,500 check, which he backdated to Jan. 23. A store video from the day before the incident shows the brothers buying ski masks.
Bond for the actor was set at $100,000, and the court ordered him to surrender his passport.
What You Missed
The case against Smollett first gathered momentum midweek.
Wednesday, a Cook County grand jury received evidence that Smollett may have staged his attack weeks ago on January 29. Filing a false police report in Chicago is a Class 4 felony. Smollett is now an “official suspect” in his own assault.
Over the past several weeks, police investigators turned their attention from identifying possible assailants to Smollett, whose story seemed to be unraveling.More Hot Stories
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This three-way tug of war between Chicago authorities, Smollett and the media began in the early morning hours of January 29.That’s when the Empire star — who is gay — reported an assault to authorities which had all the markings of a hate crime.
Where it Began
In his original complaint, the Empire star told the police that during a walk through downtown Chicago, he was attacked by masked white men who called him by homophobic and racial slurs. They then announced this is “MAGA country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Smollett also claimed that the pair assaulted him, doused him with “an unknown chemical substance” and put a rope around his neck in a noose-like fashion.
Reports of the attack set off a media firestorm, as Trump supporters, Black Lives Matter advocates and LGBTQ rights squared off in public and social forums as to who was the more injured party in the assault’s aftermath.
But to date, no surveillance video has surfaced to corroborate Smollett’s claims. And those close to the case say the two brothers identified as the perpetrators may have been paid by the actor to stage the crime.
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Last modified: March 13, 2019