Jussie Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report by a Chicago grand jury on Friday, according to reports.
The “Empire” actor was originally charged with one felony count for filing a false police report by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office last month, in connection to the altercation, he reported on January 29 where he said two men attacked him and shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
“This is not a newsflash. I expected it,” Mark Geragos, a member of Jussie Smollett’s defense team, told “Access” on Friday. “The way the process operates is they have to do a probable cause proceeding, so this is what’s called a probable cause proceeding. I never thought they would do a preliminary hearing.”
“As Supt Johnson stated, allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful & if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model,” Chicago Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Friday, after the news broke. “We stand behind the work of detectives & refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors.”
Smollett surrendered himself to Chicago police last month, hours after he was charged. He was released from police custody later that afternoon, after posting bail and surrendering his passport after a bond hearing.
Smollett’s bail was set at $100,000, with Smollett required to post $10,000 for release. His next court date is scheduled for Thursday, March 14th.
During a press conference on February 21st, Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor staged an attack on himself because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” He told reporters the police were in possession of a $3,5000 check that he says Smollett used to pay brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo for the incident.
The Osundairos were released without charges on February 15th, following an arrest and a 48-hour hold, after the police found “new evidence”.
“Empire” co-creators Lee Daniels and Danny Strong, showrunner Brett Mahoney, and executive producers Brian Grazer, Sanaa Hamri, Francie Calfo and Dennis Hammer issued a statement.
“The events of the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional for all of us,” the statement reads.
“Jussie has been an important member of our ‘Empire’ family for the past five years and we care about him deeply,” the statement continued. “While these allegations are very disturbing, we are placing our trust in the legal system as the process plays out. We are also aware of the effects of this process on the cast and crew members who work on our show and to avoid further disruption on set, we have decided to remove the role of ‘Jamal’ from the final two episodes of the season.”
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