Jussie Smollett, may or may not have faked his own hate crime assault, but the whopping bill he’s been handed by the City of Chicago is all too real, like, six-figures real.
Smollett, who stars in the television series “Empire,” must pay the city $130,000 to cover the cost of overtime pay for police who investigated his bogus assault.
The actor was facing multiple charges that he orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January and reported it as a hate crime.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, insists he was attacked in a brutal hate crime. But he became a suspect and was charged for allegedly lying about the incident.
His claims about the incident began to unravel when two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, told detectives Smollett paid them to stage the attack.
A raid of their home turned up ropes, masks and bleach, all the items that Smollett claimed were part of the attack. A surveillance video from a nearby hardware store showed the brothers buying the items.
A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts, one charge for each lie he told to police.
But in a shocking development last Tuesday (Mar. 26) the Cook County State’s Attorney Office dropped all charges and agreed to expunge the records.
State’s Attorney Joe Magats told CBS News he still believed Smollett to be guilty. But dropped the charges to focus on violent crimes
He said Smollett had done enough to “wipe this clean.”
Smollett reiterated afterward that he had “been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”
Needless to say, the case caused a national uproar. Even Donald Trump got in on the act. He raised the matter during a campaign rally.
Later, Trump tweeted that he was asking the FBI and the Department of Justice to review the case. He called it an “embarrassment” to the country.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were equally as furious.
Emanuel called the case a “whitewash of justice” and implied Smollett benefited from celebrity entitlement.
“I’m left hanging my head and asking why,” Johnson said.
“Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
“How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?” he added.
But the matter didn’t end there.
Jussie Smollett was ordered to pay $130,000 to the City of Chicago, according to gossip site TMZ.
The Chicago Corporation Counsel, effectively the city’s lawyer, made the claim in a demand letter.
“Over two dozen detectives and police officers participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating your false claims,” the letter states.
“The Chicago police investigation revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your own attack.”
The City wants the money within seven days, or it will sue Smollett civilly for “making a false statement under the Municipal Code of Chicago.”
The City would be eligible for triple damages if it prevails in court. That means Jussie would be on the hook for $390,000.
Smollett’s lawyer, Patricia Brown Holmes, slammed local elected officials.
“We are disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped,” she said.
“The facts are clear. The Assistant State’s Attorney appeared in court and dismissed the charges. Mr. Smollett forfeited his bond. The case is closed. No public official has the right to violate Mr. Smollett’s due process rights.”