CHICAGO — Actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by special prosecutor Dan Webb.
It reportedly stems from Smollett claiming he was the target of a hateful attack in Streeterville. The former "Empire" actor has been indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct.
According to a press release from Webb’s office, a Cook County grand jury returned the six-count indictment charging Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago police. They allege Smollett knew he was not the victim of a hate crime when he made the reports.
Webb has concluded that further prosecution of Smollett is “in the interest of justice.”
In addition to the determining if Smollett reported a false hate crime, Webb’s office said another major factor in the determination is that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office did not provide additional documentary evidence.
Webb’s office stated that CCSAO has been unable to show that they relied on other similar dismissal terms to Smollett’s in other cases.
On March 26, 2019, the CCSAO issued a press release stating that Smollett’s case was being resolved under the same criteria that would be available for any defendant with similar charges.
As of result, Webb’s office has reportedly sought to obtain all documentary evidence within the CCSAO that would identify similar case files and dismissal terms. Webb’s office said the CCSAO was unable to provide the documents.
Additionally, Webb’s office has reportedly obtained factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the CCSAO resolved Smollett’s case.
On March 7, 2019, the CCSAO approved the filling of the 16-count felony indictment against Smollett. Three weeks later, they dismissed the charges.
Webb’s office said CCSAO decision-makers have not identified any new evidence they learned of between the time of the indictment and the dismissal. Additionally, Webb’s office said CCSAO maintained their view that the evidence against Smollett was strong.
Webb’s office emphasized that the decision to further prosecute Smollett is not evidence that any individuals within the CCSAO engaged in any wrongdoing.
No warrant for Smollett has been issued. He's due in court Feb. 24.
The state's attorney's office charged Smollett in February, 2019 with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for purportedly orchestrating the incident. However, it dropped all of the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.
Smollett told police he was walking home early on Jan. 29, 2019 when two masked men approached him, made racist and homophobic insults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing. He said his assailants, at least one of whom he said was white, told him he was in "MAGA country" — a reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again."
Several weeks later, authorities alleged that Smollett had paid two black friends $3,500 to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary as an actor on "Empire" and wanted to drum up publicity for his career.
WGN spoke with the attorney for the Osundairo brothers, who said they're willing to cooperate.
“As I’ve said from day one, they’ve always been wanting to cooperate,” attorney Gloria Schmidt-Rodriguez said. “With whatever investigation the government asks them to do.”
A former state appellate judge, Sheila O'Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Toomin's surprise ruling in June that one was warranted.
Toomin appointed Webb in August.
The Cook County State's Attorney's Office issued the following statement Tuesday.
As the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does in all cases, the Special Prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending.
Jussie Smollett's legal team issued the following statement Tuesday night.
This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett's pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. One of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.
After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State's Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.
The city's Law Department issued the following statement.
We look forward to reviewing the indictment and, as we have said previously, the City stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements. We again thank the Chicago Police Department detectives for their hard work on the original investigation.
Read the indictment below.