Jussie Smollett Sentenced To 150 Days In Jail Over Faked 2019 Attack

Jussie Smollett Sentenced To 150 Days In Jail Over Faked 2019 Attack

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced on Thursday to 150 days in jail Thursday, starting immediately. While avoiding state prison, the incarceration comes as a part of an overall sentence of 30 months probation, $120,106 in restitution, and a further $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. This sentencing comes three months after he was found guilty on five felony counts, including lying to Chicago cops over an alleged 2019 hate crime attack.

After the judge announced his sentence, Smollett lowered his face mask and said he was innocent. “Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this,” the actor told the judge, before turning to the court. “And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”

As he was led out of the courtroom, Smollett raised his fist in the air and yelled, “I am not suicidal, I am innocent!”

Cook County Judge James Linn spoke for more than 30 minutes before announcing Smollett’s sentence, telling the actor that he wrote the script and picked the actors for the hoax, and that his premeditation for the act was an “aggravating factor” in the case.

“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance and selfishness and narcissism that’s just disgraceful,” the judge berated. “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime. You’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that’s shameful.”

The borderline angry judge told Smollett that he turned his “life upside down by your misconduct and shenanigans” by “hoaxing racial and homophobic hate crimes.”

“You really craved the attention,” Linn speculated on Smollett’s motivations as he centered on the assumed “damage” to true hate crime victims and reporting that the performer has caused. “You wanted to make yourself more famous…throwing a national pity party for yourself.”

“You’re just a charlatan, pretending to be the victim of a hate crime,” Linn concluded of “toxic” Smollett. “You committed hour upon hour of pure perjury,” he went on to say of the performer’s stint on the stand in his own defense late last year.

Smollett, 39, was found guilty in December on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports about what he said was an anti-gay and anti-Black hate crime. The actor, who is Black and gay, told Chicago police that on a frigid night in January 2019, two unknown men attacked him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.

Celebrities and politicians rushed to defend him publicly, and Chicago police investigated the case as a possible hate crime. Initially erupting with calls of compassion and outrage, including from then-President Donald Trump, the emerging details and contradictions of the alleged pre-dawn January 29, 2019 assault on Smollett soon turned the actor into a source of derision.

Flipping on their pal, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo’s revelation that Smollett had paid them $3,500 by check and $100 in cash just before the attack during that cold night tore away much of the sympathy for the actor, who most famously played middle son Jamal Lyon on the Lee Daniels-created primetime soap Empire for five seasons. Although Smollett and later his lawyers repeated that the money given to the Osundairos was for help getting the actor in shape for a music video, he was dumped from the show’s sixth and final season.

Once the siblings confessed their part in the scheme after being held for hours under interrogation by Chicago cops, a pervious light-handed legal system also turned against Smollett almost as fast as public opinion.

While Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office tossed out the original case against Smollett after he forfeited a $10,000 bail, the outcry saw ex-Iran Contra lawyer Webb brought aboard as a special prosecutor in the summer of 2019. In February 2020, as Smollett came up short trying to get the new probes dismissed, Webb indicted the actor on the six felonies. As was true of so many cases in America in 2020 and 2021, the trial was delayed for over a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Smollett maintained his innocence under oath during the trial, but the jury convicted him on five of six felony charges after nine hours of deliberations. While a conviction for disorderly conduct for a false crime report is punishable by up to three years in prison, it is rare for a judge to sentence an offender with no prior felony convictions to prison time for the charge.

Prosecutors on Thursday urged the judge to give Smollett an “appropriate” sentence, pointing to the fact that the actor has never taken responsibility for his actions and saying he may have hurt efforts of real hate crime victims to come forward.

Smollett’s attorneys argued that he should be given a more lenient punishment such as probation, citing his lack of criminal history and community service he has performed. They read several letters – from the likes of the Rev. Jesse L Jackson, members of Smollett’s family and circle, director of BLM Grassroots and co-founder of BLM Los Angeles Dr. Melina Abdullah, Alfre Woodard, Samuel L. Jackson and spouse LaTanya Richardson Jackson – which attested to that part of his life. Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, also argued the guilty verdict should be overturned and a new trial granted based on legal errors leading up to and during the trial. Judge Linn denied the defense’s request, saying he believed Smollett received a fair trial.

In a news conference following the sentencing, Smollett’s brother, Jojo Smollett, told reporters he was disappointed with the outcome.

“He shamed my brother. He spoke about his arrogance,” Jojo Smollett said of the judge. “He doesn’t know the struggles my brother is encountering. He doesn’t know anything that he’s dealing with.”

Jazz Smollett, the actor’s sister, called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”

“My brother is innocent,” Smollett’s sister said. “This should not be a controversial statement because it is the absolute truth.”

Special Prosecutor Daniel Webb said he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence, adding that Smollett’s “conduct denigrated hate crimes.” Webb said the judge’s comments showed that “he clearly has understood … that this was a course of conduct that deserved severe punishment.”

As for Smollett, the performer is still technically facing a civil suit from the City of Chicago over the manpower and resources spent on the police investigation into the alleged hate crime.

The city of Chicago filed a lawsuit against Smollett in April 2019 after the actor declined to pay the city $130,106.15 for the police investigation, court documents show. Smollett filed a countersuit in November 2020. Chicago’s Department of Law noted in the city’s suit that over two dozen police officers and detectives spent weeks working on Smollett’s case in 2019, resulting in 1,836 overtime hours.

Following Smollett’s conviction in December, the city said it intended to continue pursuing its lawsuit.

During the sentencing, the judge highlighted the amount of police work that went into the investigation, telling Smollett that police resources are valuable and limited.

“You took away a lot of resources from other places, from other real victims of real crimes and used up the police resources for your own benefit, and that’s a big problem here,” the judge said.

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  1. Mandy
    March 11, 17:25 Reply

    How exactly is he innocent? Can he or his family explain that? From the trial, they weren’t even able to make an alternative case that’d cast reasonable doubt enough to sway the jury. Yet they keep protesting that he’s innocent. Innocent how?

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