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UPDATE 2/20 at 7:58 p.m. 

Multiple reports are now saying Smollett has been officially charged with felony disorderly conduct by the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.

UPDATE 2/20 at 7:16 p.m. 

Multiple reports now say Jussie Smollett is a suspect in a false attack story that has lit up social media in the past weeks. TMZ.com reports that there is surveillance photo of the brothers at a Chicago store purchasing ski masks and red hats. 

CHICAGO (AP) — Detectives suspect that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett filed a false police report when he said he was attacked in downtown Chicago by two men who hurled racist and anti-gay slurs and looped a rope around his neck, a police official said Wednesday.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi also said detectives and two brothers who were earlier deemed suspects in the Jan. 29 beating testified before a grand jury. If indicted for filing a false report, a felony, the actor would face a possible prison sentence of one to three years and could be forced to pay for the cost of the investigation.

Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and police earlier Wednesday. It was unknown what they discussed or whether Smollett attended the meeting. The attorneys did not reply to requests for comment.

The police announcement came after a flurry of activity in recent days that included lengthy interviews of the brothers by authorities, a search of their home and their release after police cleared them.

Investigators have not said what the brothers told detectives or what evidence detectives collected. But it became increasingly clear that serious questions had arisen about Smollett’s account — something police signaled Friday when they announced a “significant shift in the trajectory” of the probe after the brothers were freed.

The brothers, who were identified by their attorney as Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett before being released.

The next day, police said the men provided information that had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation” and detectives had requested another interview with Smollett.

The Osundairos’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Associated Press.

Smollett’s lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, have said the actor was angered and “victimized” by reports suggesting that he may have played a role in staging the attack.

“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,” Pugh and Henderson said Saturday in a statement.

If Smollett’s account is determined to be a fabrication, legal experts say he could be charged with any number of felonies. The most obvious charge is felony disorderly conduct, which is legalese for filing a false police report.

Such a charge is fairly common. In Boone County, Illinois, for example, a woman is awaiting trial on allegations that she called in a false threat of a gunman in September. The call prompted a police search for a suspect and put several area schools on lockdown.

Former Cook County prosecutor Andrew Weisberg recently represented a client who was charged with the same crime when her account of being robbed by three men at O’Hare Airport came apart. Police found surveillance video that showed the woman and an accomplice walking through the airport without the items they claimed were stolen.

Another possibility is an obstruction-of-justice charge. Both crimes are Class 4 felonies, which in addition to prison time carry the possibility of a fine of $25,000.

Weisberg said judges rarely throw defendants in prison, opting instead to place them on probation, particularly if they have no prior criminal record.

Smollett has a record — one that concerns giving false information to police when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to records, he was also charged with false impersonation and driving without a license. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.

Another prospective problem is the bill someone might receive after falsely reporting a crime that prompted a massive investigation that lasted nearly a month and included the collection and review of hundreds of hours of surveillance video.

The size of the tab is anyone’s guess, but given how much time the police have invested, the cost could be huge.

For an investigation that took only a single day, Weisberg’s client had to split restitution of $8,400, Weisberg said. In Smollett’s case, “I can imagine that this would be easily into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Also Wednesday, Chicago’s top prosecutor, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, announced that she had recused herself from the investigation.

Her office explained that Foxx made the decision “out of an abundance of caution” because of conversations she had with one of Smollett’s family members just after the report. When the relative expressed concerns about the case, Foxx “facilitated a connection” between the family member and detectives, according to a statement.

Foxx said the case would be handled to her first assistant, Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor.

___

ORIGINAL STORY: 

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s top prosecutor recused herself from the investigation into the attack reported by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett shortly after police requested another interview with the actor.

The office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx offered few specifics Tuesday when announcing that Foxx was recusing herself from the case, which police said had “shifted” after detectives released two Nigerian brothers who were initially deemed suspects.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” said Foxx spokeswoman Tandra Simonton, who wouldn’t specify how Foxx was familiar with anyone in the case. Simonton said Foxx would have no further comment.

Smollett has said two masked men hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him before beating him up early on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said the men then looped a rope around his neck.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said last week that media reports about the attack being a hoax were unconfirmed by case detectives. But on Saturday, police said the “investigation had shifted” following interviews with the brothers and their release from custody without charges. Police later requested another interview with Smollett.

Smollett’s lawyers have said the actor was angered and “victimized” by reports he may have played a role in staging the attack.

“Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying,” attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson said in a statement late Saturday.

Anne Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for Smollett’s lawyers, said they would “keep an active dialogue with Chicago police on his behalf.” Kavanagh didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

A California misdemeanor complaint against Smollett in 2007 shows the actor pleaded no contest to giving false information to police when he was pulled over for driving while under the influence.

Court records show Smollett was accused of identifying himself as his younger brother and signing a false name on the promise to appear in court. Smollett was later charged with false impersonation, driving under the influence and driving without a valid license. He pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.

The details of the complaint were first reported by NBC News.

Smollett told police he was attacked while getting a sandwich around 2 a.m. near his home in downtown Chicago. He said the men also shouted, “This is MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Smollett also said the attackers poured some kind of chemical on him.

Police looked through hours of video surveillance from the area but found no footage of an attack.

Investigators did find and release images of two people they said they wanted to question. And last week, police picked up the two brothers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as they returned from Nigeria and questioned them about the attack. They also searched the apartment where the men live.

The men, who had been held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett, were released Friday. Guglielmi said the next day that information police received from the men “has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.”

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14 thoughts on “Smollett Now Officially Charged In Alleged False Report

  1. Ted Gravely on said:

    Jussie is still sticking to his story. The worst thing he can do is plea. If he didn’t do it and he maintains that he was the victim – make them prosecute you. I don’t care if I am facing a 1000 years if found guilty by a jury not of my peers, I’m not taking a plea to something I didn’t do. Innocent people go to prison/jail all the time. Once or if Jussie accepts the plea, he will be tainted. If he maintains his innocence and take the city/state to task – even if found guilty, some like me will always say, “I believe him.” I’ll never ever truly trust the liars in the institutions that are designed to entrap and put black people behind bars. Never. Conversely, if Jussie comes out and says he did it – this brother will always be branded. His one misdeed will define him until death. That’s a fact of life for a black man.

  2. Ted Gravely on said:

    Jussie is still sticking to his story. The worst thing he can do is plea. If he didn’t do it and he maintains that he was the victim – make them prosecute you. I don’t care if I am facing a 1000 years if found guilty by a jury not of my peers, I’m not taking a plea to something I didn’t do. Innocent people go to prison/jail all the time. Once or if Jussie accepts the plea, he will be tainted. If he maintains his innocence and take the city/state to task – even if found guilty, some like me will always say, “I believe him.” I’ll never ever truly trust the liars in the institutions that are designed to entrap and put black people behind bars. Never. Conversely, if Jussie comes out and says he did it – this brother will always be branded. His one misdeed will define him until death. That’s a fact of life for a black man.

  3. Passing Through!! on said:

    What about all the white people who made false claims against black people, calling 911 for: a lil black girl selling lemonade, sleeping in your dorm lounge, being a black male on college campus, a black man breaking into own apartment, a black man breaking into his own car, a black male strolling his baby in the park, black folk having a cookout. To my knowledge not one white person went to jail. I don’t agree with what Jussie did, but in retrospect of the many false claims constantly being made against black people its not the end of the world.

  4. MariAnne Bolton on said:

    Really? Is Jussie really that STUPID?? And how STUPID must those two brothers be to go along with that STUPIDITY?? Now I know we are not supposed to call anyone STUPID….but I’m sorry….if Jussie is guilty, either he is STUPID or he needs to stay off the pipe!!

  5. Boo boo on said:

    Jussie Smollett is a good reminder that everyone can’t have a dollar and fame b/c it will fyu if priority isn’t lined up, hopefully he’ll learn

  6. Butter Pecan on said:

    Anyone still buying into this knee growths story is seriously delusional. But hey, people voted for Obama twice, so they are out there. SHAKING MY DAMM BLACK HEAD

  7. Mrknowitall on said:

    Dear gay people: Jussie Smolett is a Hetro-phobe, Euro-phobe, racist, biracial, bigot, convicted liar. Other than that, he’s a great guy. Stay Sleep

  8. This snapper heads career is already OVER FOX is cutting his lines and he’s made
    Mechanical assholes out of news media and politicians I especially love this little ditty

    • Haha haha. You don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing Dems. Not when we have to live with that fraudulent, incompetent, bigot you voted for. Gtfoh!!!

      • Butter Pecan on said:

        I’m warning you nappy, the chemicals from cheap weave are easily absorbed by your scalp directly into your bloodstream. Bad shyt

  9. Phoenix Rising on said:

    Too much stardom is not good for one’s mental health. He also should cut his losses and claim a temporary mental breakdown for fear his acting career was coming to an end on Empire. The more you deny, deny, the more they’re saying you lie, you lie. I wish him well.

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