Jussie Smollett, an actor for Fox’s hit show Empire, may be serving up to three years in prison for what Chicago police are now reportedly calling a staged assault.
According to Smollett’s own account, he was the victim of a racial and homophobic attack on January 29. He said two men attacked him, yelled slurs at him, poured a chemical on him, and strung a rope around his neck.
He was widely defended by Hollywood insiders and Democratic presidential candidates who started the social media campaign “Justice for Jussie.” It seems the campaign motto has a new meaning as it is now being reported the attack may have been staged.
“Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault. The sources tell CNN that the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement,” tweeted CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz Saturday evening.
Earlier Saturday, Fox 32 Chicago’s Rafer Weigel, citing several police sources, reported Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo — the two Nigerian brothers arrested and later questioned by police about the alleged incident — purchased the rope found around the actor’s neck the night of the alleged attack at an ACE hardware store.
CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reports at least one of the brothers bought the rope at Craft Beaver hardware store the weekend of January 25th. The rope was purchased at the direction of Smollett, De Mar, citing sources, added.
“Jussie Smollett paid two brothers to stage an attack against him, directed them to buy items used in the alleged assault and actually rehearsed it with them, sources say,” CBS News reports.
The brothers, who were questioned by police this week before being released, were paid $3,500 before leaving for Nigeria and were promised an additional $500 upon their return.
They left for Nigeria later in the day on Jan. 29, after the attack.
Sources said one of the brothers held the rope and poured bleach while the other wore a plain red hat and yelled slurs at Smollett.
The sources say the red hat was bought at an Uptown beauty supply store and that the attack was supposed to happen before Jan. 29. The brothers told detectives the three men rehearsed the attack days prior to it happening.
“Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month,” CNN reports.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, via Breitbart News, said “new evidence” has resulted in the entire investigation being turned on its head. The initial two suspects have been released and police are now seeking to interview the “Empire” star.
“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” he said.
If Smollett lied to law enforcement in filing the false report, then Daily Mail reports Smollett could serve up to three years in prison:
Filing a false report to police in the State of Illinois is considered an act of disorderly conduct, which is a Class 4 felony.
That means that anyone found guilty could face between one and three years in prison.
By law, the crime of disorderly conduct is committed in Illinois by anyone who ‘transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed.’
As Breitbart reports, Smollett has maintained his own innocence as he works with law enforcement officials:
On Wednesday, the Osundairo brothers were arrested by police at O’Hare Airport after returning from a trip to Nigeria to visit family, and brought in for questioning. The brothers were reportedly spotted on surveillance footage in the Chicago neighborhood where the alleged incident occurred. Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the brothers had told CBS 2 that her clients could be charged on Friday. “They were actually detained at customs at O’Hare airport yesterday around 5:45 p.m.,” Schmidt said. “They had no idea what was going on, and they’ve been detained since then.”
“When they first learned about what happened to him they were horrified. This is someone they know. This is someone they’ve worked with, so they don’t want to see somebody go through that,” she continued.
The lawyer confirmed the Osundairos had been extras on Empire and went to the gym with Smollett.
Smollett, who is black and gay, has said two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” beat him and looped a rope around his neck early on January 29 before fleeing the scene. He said they also poured some kind of chemical on him. Smollett, 36, said he was out getting food at a Subway sandwich shop in downtown Chicago when the attack occurred.
Smollett has maintained that he has been truthful about the incident, contending his story has not changed since it took place. “I am working with authorities and have been 100% factual and consistent on every level,” the actor said in a statement to ESSENCE magazine. “Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.”