CHICAGO, IL- A former “Empire” actor has been found guilty for his role in a 2019 hate crime hoax where the actor lied to police.
Jussie Smollett, 39, was found guilty on Thursday, March 10, and has been sentenced to 150 days in jail, 30 months probation and will have to pay fined in the amount of $145,000.00.
In January 2019 at 2:00 a.m. during a severe cold front where temperatures in Chicago dropped to -23 degrees, Smollett walked to a Subway sandwich to grab something to eat. On his way back to his residence, Smollett claimed he was yelled at and attacked by two men wearing MAGA hats.
According to Smollett, the men beat him up, dumped chemicals on him, and threw a clothesline noose around his neck. When the police arrived at Smollett’s dwelling, he still had the noose around his neck. When police asked why he didn’t remove the rope, Smollett said he wanted the police to see it first. He also wanted police to turn off their body-cameras.
He also stated that the two attackers yelled homophobic and racial slurs at him. Smollett is a black and gay man.
Several big-name celebrities and politicians quickly came to the defense of Smollett and demonized racism and homophobia including President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.
As of the writing of this article, Kamala Harris’ tweet is still available on her Twitter account.
Smollett even appeared on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton” and did a televised interview with ABC News. During this interview, Smollett said the attackers yelled “This is MAGA country!” and that he was called a f***t and a n****r.
This launched a police investigation where two men were eventually arrested. The men who were arrested were brothers Olabingo and Abimbola Osundario who worked on the set of “Empire” and were of Nigerian descent.
The Osundario brothers said Smollett orchestrated the “hate crime” and that he gave them $100.00 to buy supplies and wrote them a $3,500.00 check as payment. Olabingo Osundario said Smollett had received hate mail at the Chicago studio and had an idea of two MAGA supporters attacking him. The hate mail Smollett received was apparently the catalyst for the hoax attack.
MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again” and was a slogan for former President Donald Trump. This led to further deepen the divide in the United States.
Jussie Smollett even had a “dry run” of the attack that was caught on surveillance video one day before the hoax hate crime. Not only was there video of the “dry run” but also of the brothers buying the clothesline and the red hats that were worn. The jury was shown the relevant surveillance footage.
In court, Smollett’s defense attorney, Nenye Uche, tried to say the brothers were homophobic and did not like Smollett because of who he is. Uche then said the check used to pay the brothers was for personal training for a music video.
The defense also tried to say the brothers weren’t reliable due to police finding heroin and guns in their home.
After the sentencing, Smollett had an outburst in the courtroom yelling, “I am not suicidal. I am innocent and I am not suicidal. If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Your honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I did not do this, and I am not suicidal… If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself.”