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'Good friend' of Jussie Smollett says 'Empire' actor recruited him to stage hate crime

'Good friend' of Jussie Smollett says 'Empire' actor recruited him to stage hate crime
On the third day of Jussie Smollett's trial, his friend testified that the actor recruited him to attack him  Jan. 29, 2019. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A self-professed good friend of Jussie Smollett testified Wednesday that the former Empire actor had recruited him and his brother to stage a hate crime in the winter of 2019.

Abimbola "Bola" Osundairo, 28, told jurors in a Chicago courtroom that the openly gay actor paid him to stage the Jan. 29, 2019, Streeterville assault in which he and his brother attacked Smollett.

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The testimony came on the third day of a trial in which the 39-year-old faces charges of telling police that two men attacked him and flung homophobic and racial slurs at him, draped a noose around his neck and told him "This is MAGA country."

The 28-year-old bodybuilder met Smollett in 2017 while on set as an extra for the show Empire. He said he and Smollett became "good friends," and he would procure the actor drugs and Smollett would help him with his own thespian career.

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"I would call him my brother," he said.

The Lake View man told the jury that he was "confused" and "puzzled" by Smollett's request but agreed to do it out of feeling a sense of indebtedness to Smollett.

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"I also believed he could help further my acting career," he said.

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Osundairo testified that days before the planned assault, Smollett texted him to arrange a meeting and gave him $100 to purchase supplies, telling him and his brother, Olabinjo Osundairo, to attack him.

"We went over the details of what he wanted us to say and do," he said, adding, "he wanted me to pull the punch so I don't hurt him, give him a bruise.

Osundairo said he didn't expect to get paid but the actor gave him a $3,500 check, which the bodybuilder believed was for the attack as well as for a nutrition and exercise plan he prepared for the actor.

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Following the attack, the two brothers flew to Nigeria to visit family but were arrested on their return to Chicago. They were later released.

Olabinjo Osundairo is also expected to testify in the trial.

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