‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett pleaded ‘not guilty’ in Chicago Thursday on 16 felony charges related to his alleged hate crime hoax, reports Fox News.
Smollett -who was initially charged with lying to law enforcement on February 20- was indicted by a Grand Jury on 16 felony counts.
His next court date is April 17th.
Law enforcement believe Smollett staged the alleged hate crime hoax on January 29th; telling investigators he was beaten outside a local ‘Subway’ restaurant, covered in bleach, had a noose tied around his neck, and was told ‘This is MAGA country’ by his assailants.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
SMOLLETT’S STATEMENT: Lawyer Says Actor ‘Betrayed’ by Legal System Seeking to ‘Skip Due Process’
The legal team representing ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett released an official statement Thursday evening; saying the celebrity was “betrayed” by the legal system that orchestrated a “law enforcement spectacle.”
“Mr. Smollet is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing,” read the statement.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” the statement added. “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,” it added.
Smollett was taken into custody Thursday morning and charged with filing a false police report regarding an alleged hate-crime hoax.
Read the full report here.
CHICAGO PD: Smollett Staged Attack, Sent Letter Because ‘He was Dissatisfied with Salary’
New details continued to emerge surrounding ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett’s arrest Thursday, with the Chicago Police Department saying the celebrity “staged” the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.”
“JUST IN: Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: Jussie Smollett ‘paid $3,500 to stage this attack…The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” posted ABC News.
JUST IN: Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson: Jussie Smollett "paid $3,500 to stage this attack…The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary." https://t.co/5AiMcfe6iH pic.twitter.com/0za7CEbVtv
— ABC News (@ABC) February 21, 2019
“Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic, and political language. When that didn’t’ work Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack… Why? The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” confirmed the police department.