(CHICAGO) — An Illinois grand jury has indicted “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, according to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office.
Several hours after the grand jury indictments were announced late Friday, Smollett’s attorney issued a new statement, “adamantly” maintaining the actor’s innocence and accusing law enforcement of leaking details of the probe.
Yet proving Smollett’s innocence will be a tall order for celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, as the Chicago Police Department that investigated the alleged attack continues to publicly describes Smollett’s alleged actions as “shameful, [and] if proven, an affront to the people of Chicago.”
The grand jury returned two separate sets of charges, Robert Foley, a senior advisor in the state attorney’s office told ABC News.
The first set is related to what Smollett told officers about the alleged attack, including that the attackers called him racial and homophobic slurs, struck him with their hands, put a noose around his neck, and poured some sort of chemical substance on him.
The second set of charges are related to the second interview Smollett had with police about the alleged attack later that day.
The new set of charges each carry a possible sentence of probation to four years, according to WLS. Smollett already pleaded not guilty to the first disorderly conduct charge. He was taken into custody and posted $100,000 bond to be freed.
Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men near his apartment in Chicago at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. The two men, Smollett initially said, shouted racist and homophobic slurs at him as a rope was wrapped around his neck and an unknown chemical substance was poured on him. The alleged assailants yelled “MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make American Great Again” slogan, police were told.
Police identified and questioned two “persons of interest” captured on surveillance video near the scene around the time of the alleged attack. The men, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, were arrested on Feb. 13 but then released without charges, with police saying they were no longer considered suspects.
While being questioned by investigators, the brothers claimed that Smollett paid them $3,500 to help orchestrate and stage the crime after he became upset that a letter threatening him, sent Jan. 22 to the Fox studio where the television series “Empire” is filmed, did not get enough attention, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
Smollett, who has consistently denied any role in staging the supposed crime, turned himself last month.
A judge set bond at $100,000 and ordered Smollett to surrender his passport. The actor, who pleaded not guilty, was released after posting 10 percent of his bond.
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.