Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for false police report

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Danielle Haynes
Chicago police launched an internal investigation into media leaks regarding the high-profile case. Photo courtesy Chicago Police Department
Chicago police launched an internal investigation into media leaks regarding the high-profile case. Photo courtesy Chicago Police Department | License Photo

March 8 (UPI) -- A Chicago grand jury on Friday indicted Empire actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts for allegedly reporting a false hate crime against him in January.

He faces 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office confirmed to WLS-TV in Chicago.


"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time ... there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed," the indictment said, according to WBBM-TV in Chicago.

Smollett came under scrutiny over the past several weeks after he told police two men attacked him while yelling racial slurs and saying this is "MAGA country" -- a reference to President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again campaign slogan. The actor-singer was hospitalized with cuts and bruises after he said the men poured a bleach-like substance on him and put a noose around his neck.

But after several weeks of investigation, Chicago police said Smollett staged the attack.

The grand jury returned two indictments for Smollett, one stemming from his initial report of the attack and another from a second interview he gave police. Each charge carries a sentence of up to four years of probation.


Meanwhile, Chicago police want to know who leaked information about the department's investigation into Smollett to the media.

The internal investigation is looking at the interrogation of two brothers, who police said were paid by Smollett to stage a fake attack on him to garner sympathy and fame. Police said Abel Osundairo and Ola Osundairo were paid $3,500 via personal check with a memo line that reads "personal training."

Details of the police questioning were leaked to the media at some point. No alleged leakers have been identified, and no Chicago police officers have been disciplined. State police, prosecutors and federal agents all the way to court clerk's staff had access to the details of the case, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

"I will also add that there were several agencies briefed with information during that time, and some of the information that went out was not factually accurate," Guglielmi told ABC News on Thursday evening. "These types of investigations are fairly common so that we can determine if we have any integrity issues for future cases."

Police had obtained a search warrant that led to the check and have text messages between Smollett and the brothers. Smollett was initially charged with a single count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false crime report and was arrested. He pleaded not guilty. He is free on $100,000 bail.


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