Entertainment

Jussie Smollett Is Indicted on 16 Felony Counts

The 'Empire' actor, who claimed he was attacked in Chicago, could face up to three years in prison for allegedly falsely reporting a hate crime

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“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was indicted Friday on 16 felony counts following his Chicago attack allegations.

A spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

A lawyer for Smollett did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Chicago Police opened an internal investigation into Smollet’s case.

In a statement to Fox News on Thursday, a spokesperson for the force confirmed that “an internal investigation has been opened.”

“I would like to point out that a lot of the information out there was inaccurate and there were numerous agencies involved in this investigation,” the statement continued.

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“As a standard procedure, when there are allegations of information being leaked, an internal investigation has been opened and we are also looking at our vulnerabilities.”

In January, Smollett told police that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a sandwich shop in the early morning on January 29.

The actor, who is black and gay, said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled, “This is MAGA country” — an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, before fleeing.

But that isn’t how police say it all went down.

Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct.

After he turned himself in, a judge set Smollett’s bond for $100,000 — and he was released from jail.

If convicted, he will face up to three years behind bars.

According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett paid Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo by check for a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference last month that police found the “check that [Smollett] used to pay [two brothers]” to fake the beating, adding he paid them $3,500 “for the two of them in total, and then $500 upon return.”

He said the attack “was staged, the brothers had on gloves during the (air quotes) ‘staged attack’ where they punched him a little, but as far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on [Smollett’s] face was most likely self-inflicted.”

Smollett has maintained his innocence. The actor’s legal counsel told Fox News after Smollett was accused of filing the fake police report that the nation “witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.”

Related: The Five Most Anti-Trump Statements Made by Jussie Smollett

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a mayoral election,” his team continued.

“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Illinois attorney Rod Drobinski reviewed the indictment and told Fox News the grand jury hit Smollett with a separate count for every different crime he alleged had been perpetrated against him (eight in all) — to each of the officers he spoke with (two). Thus, the 16 total counts.

Fox News’ Sasha Savitsky and Julius Young, as well as the Associated Press, contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission. This is a developing story.

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