Empire star Jussie Smollett has been charged with 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury after police accused the actor of falsely reporting a hate crime in January.
Smollett had previously been charged with a felony disorderly conduct for a false report last month.
CWB Chicago reports Smollett has now been charged with “a total of 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct-false report.”
The grand jury notes Smollett lied to police on two different occasions about the alleged hate crime. The first was to the beat cop who took the initial report and the second was in a follow-up interview conducted the same day by a detective.
Smollett claimed he had been attacked by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him and threw an unknown chemical substance at him. He also claimed the men shouted, “This is MAGA country” and that they put a noose around his neck.
Each of these new charges carry “a potential sentence of probation to three years if convicted,” according to CWB Chicago. However, they note that most Cook County cases “are resolved through plea bargains in which a defendant pleads guilty one and, rarely, two counts of an indictment in return for a favorable sentence.”
They also believe that if Smollett does go to trial and is convicted the sentences would b “ordered served concurrently.”
In a press briefing last month, Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson accused Smollett of arranging the attack against himself stating, “This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary.”
Breitbart reports the actor allegedly earned over $100,000 per episode of Empire.
Smollett’s character was cut from the final two episodes of the latest Empire season. Empire executives releaed a joint statement that reads, “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
Smollett’s legal team accused the Chicago police and police superintendent Eddie Johnson of an “organized law enforcement spectacle.” They also claim that Smollett’s “presumption of innocence…was trampled upon.”
Smollett has received support from fellow Empire actor Terrence Howard as well as musician Queen Latifah.
What do you make of these new charges against Smollett?