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Judge sets March 10 sentencing for Jussie Smollett in hate crime hoax

Judge sets March 10 sentencing for Jussie Smollett in hate crime hoax
Jussie Smollett (L), arrives with family and attorneys for the first day of his hate crime hoax trial. File Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A judge on Thursday set a March 10 sentencing date for former Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who was convicted last month of filing a false police report that he fell victim to a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago three years ago.

Criminal Courts Judge James Linn set the sentencing hearing for March 10 during a brief virtual hearing, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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During the hearing, Linn also ordered both sides to submit lists of witnesses to testify at sentencing by March 3, and he said Smollett's attorneys had until Feb. 25 to file any post-trial motions.

Smollett, who was released on bond after his conviction, told the judge he would show up in person for the sentencing, the New York Times reported.

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The maximum sentence for his conviction is three years in prison, but some experts have said he is likely to receive a sentence of probation since he has no prior felony conviction.

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb has not yet indicated whether he will recommend prison time to the judge, but has said that Smollett was "not repentant at all," the Times reported.

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Smollett was convicted last month on five of six disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report that he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack in the Streeterville neighborhood of Cook County, Ill., in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019.

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In March 2019, he was originally charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct related to filing the false police report, but 19 days later Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the 16-count indictment, citing his "volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the city of Chicago."

Smollett was indicted again in February 2020 on six counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to police after a six-month investigation by Webb.

He was found guilty for lying to police on all but the sixth count, which involved changing his statement to Det. Robert Graves on Feb. 14, 2019, from a "White attacker' to "pale-skinned."

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The city has said the case has cost taxpayers more than $130,000 in police overtime.

Last month, a special prosecutor's report found "operational failures" in Foxx's office's handling of the case including "false and misleading statements" to the public regarding the reason for the initial dismissal of the case.

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The misleading statements included that Smollett had no criminal background, when he had a prior misdemeanor conviction out of California from 2007 for driving under the influence, driving without a license, and lying to police, for which he received 24 months probation.

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