On Tuesday, actor Jussie Smollett was indicted in Chicago on six counts of disorderly conduct by special prosecutor Dan Webb, after a grand jury found him guilty of lying to law enforcement officers about being the victim of a hate crime in February 2019.
Smollett, best known for his role on Fox’s Empire, is scheduled to appear in court in for arraignment on February 24 at 9:30 a.m. CT, before Presiding Judge Criminal Division Leroy K. Martin Jr of the Circuit Court of Cook County to have a trial judge assigned to the case.
Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian raised many concerns about the indictment in a statement to Chicago’s Fox-affiliate. “This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett’s pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution,” she said in a statement. Glandian also said that Smollett is currently suing one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury for his role in the initial prosecution against him.
In his statement, Webb said that he found no evidence that any person or office engaged in wrongdoing in Smollett’s case, but the investigation will continue.
The six charges brought against Smollett allege that he knowingly lied to police about the staged attacks against him. “Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such an offense had been committed,” the indictment stated.
Despite resolving Smollett’s case, Webb wrote that Cook County State Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) had strong evidence against the actor prior to dropping the charges without him admitting guilt. According to Webb’s statement, the CCSAO “have not identified any new evidence they learned of between the time of indictment and dismissal of the indictment that changed their view that the evidence against Mr. Smollett was strong.”
If the new charges brought against Smollett are charged as a felony, he can face one to five years in prison. If charged as a Class 3 felony, Smollett will also be fined up to $10,000. Smollett will also have to do up to 120 hours of community service. If charged as a misdemeanor, Smollett may still face up to a year in prison and may also be fined between $1,500 and $2,500.
Smollett originally told police that he was attacked by two people who placed a rope around his neck and poured “an unknown chemical substance” on him. Investigators later searched the home of Empire extras Ola and Abel Osundairo, finding a red hat, bleach and a black face mask, but the pair were not charged. Smollett turned himself in to police in February 2019 after being indicted for staging a false attack. He was accused of paying the brothers $3,500 to stage the attack.
All 16 counts of Smollett’s felony indictment related to the attack claims were dropped in March 2019, and Smollett was required to perform 15 hours of community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed Webb as a special prosecutor in August 2019, following the CCSAO’s decision to drop all charges against Smollett. Toomin appointed Webb to determine whether Smollett should be further prosecuted for the alleged false reports made to CPD and whether any person or office involved in the case engaged in wrongdoing.
“In consideration of Mr. Smollett’s right to a fair trial, the OSP will not comment further about the indictment or the OSP’s continuing investigation,” Webb’s statement concluded.
Despite Webb’s statement that the case was resolved in spite of the strong evidence against Smollett, the actor’s attorney says that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
“After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett,” Glandian said. “Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics, not justice.”