A jury has found disgraced actor and former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett guilty on five of six counts in a case where he is accused of staging an anti-gay racist attack on himself there. was almost three years old and then lied to the Chicago police about it.
He was acquitted of one count.
The verdict came after a trial of about a week in which two brothers said Smollett recruited them to fake an attack on him near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019. Smollett denied to several repeated these allegations. The brothers said Smollett orchestrated the hoax, telling them to put a noose around his neck and brutalize him in sight of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax be made public via social networks.
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Smollett called the brothers “liars” and said their story was “100% false. He testified for two days about being the victim of what he called a hate crime, telling the jury “there was no hoax.”
Abimbola Osundairo, who worked with Smollett on the set of “Empire” in Chicago, and her brother, Olabingo Osundairo, also said Smollett paid them $ 3,500 for faking the attack. Smollett said the money was for meal and workout plans provided by Abimbola Osundairo so the actor could be more toned for the performances to come.
The Jan. 29 assault was reported to police, triggering a massive investigation that a senior detective said included some two dozen officers and 3,000 hours of work. The investigation – which included video from surveillance cameras, GPS, and taxi and carpooling logs – led police to the Osundairo brothers, who told Smollett detectives that they staged the alleged hate crime.
Smollett’s defense attorneys argued that the brothers attacked the actor – who is gay and black – because they were homophobic and didn’t like “who he was.” They also alleged that the brothers made up the story of the organized attack to get money from Smollett and told him they would not testify against him if he paid them $ 1 million each. .
The Class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts said Smollett would likely be placed on probation and ordered to do community service.