The trouble is not yet over for “Empire” star Jussie Smollett, despite being out on bond on a single count of filing a false police report with the Chicago Police Department.
Friday afternoon, prosecutors announced that a Cook County grand jury finally wrapped up its investigation into Smollett’s alleged “hate crime” hoax, and returned a 16-count indictment against the actor in connection with the January 29th incident, in which Smollett claimed he was approached and beaten by two Trump supporters.
CBS Chicago reports that the “jury returned 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct against the actor for allegedly staging a hate crime attack.” The grand jury also reportedly accused Smollett of falsifying a crime.
Local news source, CWB Chicago, also says that the “grand jury’s true bill states that Smollett lied about the attack to two separate police officers — the beat cop who took his initial report and a detective who conducted a follow-up interview the same day.”
These charges are in addition to the “felony disorderly conduct — false report” Smollett was hit with last month. Cook County prosecutors decided to charge Smollett with the single count while awaiting the decision of a so-called “John Doe” jury, which sits daily in Chicago criminal court and analyzes evidence presented without knowledge of the perpetrator. Although prosecutors had already issued the single charge, the grand jury, apparently, was still processing evidence supplied by the Chicago Police Department.
Each new charge carries a potential jail sentence of up to four years.
The Chicago grand jury supplied its decision in two parts. In the first part, “the grand jury found that Smollet filed a false police report around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29th in which he told an officer that he was attacked near 341 East Lower North Water Street by two unknown men who were dressed in black and one of whom wore a ski mask,” according to CWB. The jury issued a separate charge for each independent statement regarding a crime made during Smollett’s interview; one charge for alleging racial slurs, one charge for accusations that the perpetrators threw a noxious substance on Smollett, and so on.
In the second set of charges, the grand jury analyzed “Smollett’s alleged false reporting of the incident to a police detective later the same day.” Again, the jury returned one count for each individual false statement, this time including counts for Smollett’s description of his attackers.
Unfortunately for Smollett, he is also awaiting the outcome of a Federal investigation involving the United States Postal Inspector, over whether Smollett mailed a threatening letter, containing a “white powder” that turned out to be crushed Tylenol, to himself using the United States Postal Service.
Smollett, of course, insists that his story — that he was attacked by two Trump supporters screaming racial and homophobic slurs and brandishing bleach and a rope, outside his downtown Chicago apartment at 2am on January 29th, after returning from buying a sandwich at a local 24-hour Subway shop — is absolutely true.
Smollett is due to appear in court next week on the first charge. His attorneys have not specified how he will answer this new set of charges, but Smollett will likely be processed on the new charges during his upcoming appointment because he is already out on bond.