Empire actor Jussie Smollet could receive prison time if he is found to have filed a false report with the Chicago Police Department regarding his alleged attack last month.
Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the attack reported by Smollett has “shifted” due to information received from two brothers arrested in the case then released, and police want to interview the “Empire” actor again.
According to CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz: “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.”
Earlier Saturday, CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar reported at least one of the brothers bought the thin rope at Craft Beaver hardware store the weekend of January 25th. The rope was bought at “the direction of Smollett,” and the brothers were reportedly paid $3,500 before traveling to Nigeria and promised an extra $500 upon their return, said De Mar.
The Daily Mail reports:
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.’
Smollett, who is black and gay, told police was attacked early January 29 in Chicago by two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs. The actor told police they looped a rope around his neck, doused him in an unknown chemical substance and shouted
“This is MAGA country!” before running away as he was out getting food at a Subway restaurant.
Smollett’s lawyers said in a statement Saturday evening that their client is “angered” and “further victimized” by claims that he staged his own attack. “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the actor’s lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, told ABC News. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement continued. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.
Police have said they were investigating the attack as a possible hate crime and considered Smollett a victim. Reports of the assault drew outrage and support for him on social media, including from presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
“.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery,” tweeted Harris. ” This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.”
Previously, Smollett said he was cooperating with police and gave an emotional speech during a concert in West Hollywood, California, on February 2 saying that he went ahead with the show because he couldn’t let his attackers win.
Smollett also gave an interview to Robin Roberts of ABC News that aired Thursday, saying that he was “pissed” at people who did not believe he was attacked. “I’ve heard that it was a date gone bad, which I also resent that narrative,” he said. “I’m not gonna go out and get a tuna sandwich and a salad to meet somebody. That’s ridiculous. And it’s offensive.”
Smollett also told Roberts he believes he was targeted due to outspokenness against President Donald Trump and his administration. “I come really, really hard against 45. I come really hard against his administration. I don’t hold my tongue,” he said.
Earlier this week, police said media reports that the attack was a hoax were unconfirmed.
Producers of the Fox television drama supported Smollett, saying his character on Empire, James Lyon, was not being written off the show.
Smollett turned over redacted phone records that police said were not sufficient for a criminal investigation. Smollett maintains he was the victim of a vicious attack.
Meanwhile, Michael Monico, the high-powered criminal defense attorney representing longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, said Thursday that he is representing Smollett, a sign the 36-year-old may be gearing up for a major legal fight.
Associated Press contributed to this report.