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CHICAGO — Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was charged Wednesday with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false report. Earlier Wednesday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi Smollett was officially a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a false police report. Detectives are presenting the case against him to a grand jury, Guglielmi said. He tweeted the news after Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and detectives.
Guglielmi said he didn’t know if Smollett was attending the meeting or the specifics of what was being discussed. He declined to confirm reports that subpoenas had been issued for the actor’s phone and bank records.Smollett’s lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, didn’t reply to requests for comment Wednesday.
As of now, there is no video that captures the alleged attack that the actor said occurred on Jan. 29. Smollett and his attorneys have stood by the story.
However, surveillance video released Wednesday shows two men just hours before the alleged attack buying ski masks at a beauty supply store in Uptown. Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson is reportedly upset about this case, and the implications it has had on the city. He’s especially upset over the noose reference, given its history with African-Americans. The case has now been going on for four weeks and racking up a lot of resources: 12 detectives used to canvas on the first day of the attack, evidence techs and investigators, and manpower for searching for video. There may be another meeting Wednesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, as prosecutors and police decide whether to present this case to a grand jury. The two Chicago brothers, once considered suspects in this case, were at the courthouse Tuesday. They told investigators they collaborated with Smollett to practice and stage an attack that would be reported to police. The brothers —  identified as Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo — were arrested Feb. 13 but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.” The two are no longer suspects at this time, Chicago police said.
Also Tuesday, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, with her office saying she’s familiar with potential witnesses.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case,” said the spokeswoman, Tandra Simonton.
Smollett charged with providing false information to law enforcement in 2007 misdemeanor case More than a decade ago, Smollett pleaded no contest to providing false information to law enforcement in a 2007 misdemeanor case, according to Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. The case stems from a DUI stop in which Smollett gave police the wrong name. Smollett also pleaded no contest to driving with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit and driving without a valid driver license. He was sentenced to two years of probation and paid a fine, according to Mateljan. Letter addressed to Smollett before alleged attack included the word ‘MAGA” Seven days before the alleged attack, a letter containing white powder was sent to the Chicago set of “Empire,” Chicago police have said. Authorities determined the powder to be aspirin, according to Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. The image of the letter and envelope, shared with CNN by a person close to Smollett, includes a message apparently cut from magazine clippings, and a stick figure drawing. Smollett told ABC News the drawing was of a “stick figure hanging from a tree which had a gun pointing towards it.” The letter, addressed to Smollett, includes the word “MAGA” on the outside of the envelope in place of the return address. Federal agents are reportedly investigating the letter. The brothers say Smollett was upset the letter didn’t garner more attention, and was the reason behind this attack — that was allegedly staged. What happened during the alleged attack According to to Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er'” while striking him. In a supplemental interview with authorities, Smollett confirmed media reports that one of the attackers also shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. The day after the incident, police released surveillance images that showed two silhouetted individuals walking down a sidewalk, and police said they were wanted for questioning. Police on Friday said the men were being viewed as “potential suspects” then. But by Friday night they had been released, Guglielmi said. One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details. Smollett has expressed frustration about not being believed Smollett gave his first detailed account last week of what he says was a hate crime against him, and the aftermath, in the interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim or a Mexican or someone black I feel like the doubters would have supported me a lot much more,” Smollett said. “And that says a lot about the place where we are as a country right now.” Smollett stated that one of the attackers shouted “this is MAGA country” before punching him in the face. But he refuted reports that said he told police the attackers wore “Make America Great Again” hats. “I never said that,” he told ABC’s Robin Roberts. “I didn’t need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There’s no which way you cut it. I don’t need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae.”