On Friday, it was announced that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was formally charged by a grand jury and faces 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a hate crime in Chicago.
Fox News reports,
The Cook County grand jury indictment, dated Thursday and made public on Friday, gives details of the disorderly conduct charge against Smollett, according to The Associated Press. It elaborates on the allegation that he falsely reported that he'd been attacked in late January.
The indictment — eight counts from what he told the officer who responded to the report of the attack and eight for what he later told a detective — comes a little more than two weeks after prosecutors announced one felony count of the same charge.
Illinois attorney Rod Drobinski reviewed the indictment and told Fox News the grand jury hit Smollett with a separate count for every different crime he alleged had been perpetrated against him (eight in all) — to each of the officers he spoke with (two). Thus, the 16 total counts.
Smollett’s attorney Mark Geragos says that an indictment “was not unexpected” but “the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against” Smollett is.
"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records,” Geragos said in a statement, referring to the internal investigation Chicago PD has launched to address allegations of information being leaked.
“Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption,” his attorney said.
Smollett was charged in February with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report in which he claimed he was a victim of an attack by two men who beat him and shouted racist and homophobic slurs.
While Smollett continues to deny the charges, Chicago Police maintain that Smollett is a suspect in its ongoing investigation, accusing Smollett of paying the two men – two Nigerian brothers, one which Smollett said he was hiring as his personal trainer – to stage the alleged attack. Police say the two brothers confessed to the scheme.
Anthony Guglielmi, the chief communications officer for the Chicago Police Department (CPD), echoed Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson's previous remarks in tweet on Friday, saying that the “allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful & if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.”
“We stand behind the work of detectives & refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors," he wrote.
According to Fox News, police are in talks with Smollett's legal representation to negotiate "a reasonable surrender."
For more, check out the Fox News report below.