(CHICAGO) — Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was indicted Tuesday by a grand jury in Chicago after a special prosecutor re-investigated allegations he falsely reported being the victim of a January 2019 hate-crime attack, officials said.
Smollett, 37, was indicted on six counts related to making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers, claiming he was the victim of a hate crime while “knowing he was not the victim of a crime,” special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Webb said the Office of the Special Prosecutor has “now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”
He said his office has made arrangements with Smollett’s attorneys for the actor to voluntarily appear at an arraignment on February 24 in the Criminal Division of Cook County Circuit Court. Webb’s investigation began August 23, after Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed him special prosecutor.
Smollett’s lawyers say the new indictment “raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation” and allege that “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.”
Smollett told police that on Jan. 29, 2019, he was walking on a street near his Chicago apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him — possibly bleach — and wrapping a rope around his neck, he told detectives.
Police said Smollett’s story of being the victim of an attack began to unravel when police tracked down two men, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who they said were seen in a security video near where Smollett claimed he was assaulted and around the same time it supposedly occurred.
The Osundairo brothers claimed, according to police, that Smollett paid them $3,500 to help him orchestrate and stage the crime.
With new charges brought against Smollett, a statement issued by the attorneys for the Osundairo brothers reads: “The Osundairo brothers are aware of the new charges brought against Jussie Smollett today by the grand jury. As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019. The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor’s office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered.”
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