“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that Smollett is in custody after surrendering to authorities after 5 a.m. Police said they would conduct a news conference at 9 a.m. Smollett is expected to appear in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Police said a female attorney was present with Smollett when he turned himself in and his lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson were not present at the time.
The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood last month, but the investigation turned on Smollet and he’s now accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with two brothers, one an extra on “Empire” and the other Smollett’s personal trainer. A police spokesperson said this case is about accountability.
Meanwhile, the attorney representing the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Thursday and said Smollet needs to come clean about what really happened.
“I think that Jussie’s conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened,” Schmidt.
Smollett’s lawyers fired back, releasing a statement saying: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said they have no comment at this time.
In court Thursday, the judge is expected to formally read the charge against Smollett, set his bond and then he will be released. Smollett will return to court at a later date to enter his plea.
If Smollett is eventually convicted of the charge, he could face up to three years in prison. He could also face substantial fines.
As for the two brothers who allegedly helped Smollett stage the attack, because they cooperated with authorities and testified before a grand jury, they are not expected to face any charges.
Smollett reported on Jan. 29 that he was attacked by two masked men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, beat him, threw some type of chemical liquid on him, and looped a rope around his neck in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
Two days after the alleged attack, Chicago police released surveillance images of two people they said they considered persons of interest in the attack. The pair were later identified as brothers and brought in for questioning.
A law enforcement source said the brothers allege Smollett paid them to orchestrate and stage the attack. The brothers said Smollett was upset that the threatening letter sent to Empire’s Chicago studios didn’t get enough attention.