Chicago demands Jussie Smollett pay $130K for investigating his 'false claims'

Taryn Ryder
·8 min read

The city of Chicago is demanding Jussie Smollett pay $130,000, the amount it purportedly cost to investigate the alleged hate crime against the Empire star, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The Chicago Police Department conducted an extensive investigation into this report,” a letter sent from the Chicago Corporation Counsel to Smollett’s lawyers Thursday afternoon reads. “Over two dozen detectives and police officers participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating the false claims, including a substantial number of overtime hours.”

Jussie Smollett after his court appearance on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois where it was announced that all charges were dropped against the actor. (Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Jussie Smollett after his court appearance on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois where it was announced that all charges were dropped against the actor. (Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

“If the amount is not timely paid, the Department of Law may prosecute you [Mr. Smollett] for making a false statement to the City under section 1-21-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago or pursue any other legal remedy available at law,” it continues. “A violation of the false statement ordinance imposes a fine of not less than $500 and a maximum of $1,000, plus up to three times the amount of damages the City sustains as a result of the violation. The City may also seek to recover court costs, collection costs, and attorney’s fees.”

The move comes after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was stunned by the prosecutor’s decision to drop all charges against Smollett, told WGN Radio that city officials will be sending Smollett a bill.

“He is charged with 16 counts for creating a hoax about a hate crime. He walks out, says, ‘I’m innocent.’ They say, ‘No, he’s guilty, the police work was good,'” Emanuel said. “Now, you can’t be both on the same case. So to me, was he or was he not guilty of a hoax, or was there a hate crime committed? Yes or no, it’s a very simple question.”

Emanuel added, “The police are right now finalizing the cost that was used of police resources to come to the understanding that in fact this was a hoax… We will then send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorney trying to recoup those costs.”

The actor’s legal team blasted the claim, saying “It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie – owe him an apology.”

This week’s turn of events in the case even caught President Trump‘s attention, but the actor isn’t concerned that the FBI and Justice Department are looking into why Chicago prosecutors dropped all charges.

In an interview with Today on Thursday, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian said they are “not at all” worried about the probe. “We have nothing to be concerned about because there was nothing on our end to request this, to do anything improper and to my knowledge, nothing improper was done,” she told Savannah Guthrie.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has said Smollett agreeing to forfeit his $10,000 bond and completing 16 hours of community service factored into the prosecutor’s decision to dismiss charges, but Glandian clarified there was no plea deal struck. “There were no conditions… there was no agreement in place,” she said, adding that the actor initially “struggled with” the prosecutor’s request to forfeit his bond.

“He didn’t want the perception to be he had done anything wrong, but at the end of the day forfeiting $10,000 versus putting your life on hold for a year was a small cost to pay,” she reasoned. “There were no obligations, no conditions, these were things he chose to do because that’s his character.”

Glandian declared that Smollett is “absolutely, no question” innocent and that he did not stage his own hate crime or send the threatening letter to himself. As for whether it’s absolute the Osundairo brothers were behind the attack, as another one of Smollett’s representatives reiterated Tuesday, Glandian was a little less matter-of-fact but said, “we believe that at this point with the information we’ve been told, but again, a lot of the information the [Chicago Police Department] has put out there… we do have to question it.”

Smollett was friends with Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and knew his brother, Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and “had a hard time believing” they were behind the alleged attack at first. Glandian also shared new information about the hate crime Smollett said occurred on Jan. 29.

“Was it just coincidence or, if you’re the Osundairo brothers, luck that they happened to run across [Jussie] in his neighborhood at 2 a.m.?” Guthrie asked.

“Neither, they knew he was going to be in his neighborhood at 2 a.m.,” Glandian responded, adding that Abel and Smollett were in “constant communication” that night. The actor has said he hired his friend for fitness training writing Abel a $3,500 check days before the incident, which detectives believe was actually payment to carry out the attack. The two were supposed to have a training session on Jan. 28, but according to Smollett’s attorney, it was canceled when his flight from New York to Chicago was delayed four hours. Abel apparently told Smollett to make sure to “eat four eggs” and the actor had none at his house, so he responded saying he would run out and pick some up. (In his Good Morning America interview, Smollett said he was heading to Walgreens in the early hours of Jan. 29, but ended up at Subway when it was closed.)

Guthrie also pressed Glandian about the actor’s claim his attackers — who were both wearing ski masks — were white, something he told police early on.

“Just to be clear, he only saw one of the attackers, one of them he didn’t see,” Glandian replied, adding, “he did tell police that from what he saw [around the attacker’s eyes] it was white or pale skin.”

“If it’s the Osundairo brothers, what are the chances that that’s the case, that [Jussie] saw somebody with light skin?” Guthrie asked.

“Obviously, you can disguise that. You can put make-up on,” Glandian countered, pointing to a 2016 YouTube video of Abel where he is wearing white make-up to perform a Joker monologue. “I think police did minimal investigation in this case it took me all of five minutes to Google, you know, I was looking up the brothers, and one of the first videos that showed up actually was one of the brothers in whiteface doing a Joker monologue, with white makeup on. It’s not implausible.”

Guthrie asked that if Smollett truly is “a victim of a crime, as he contends, will he urge prosecutors to bring charges against the Osundairo brothers and will he be willing to testify?”

Not likely.

“He’s told me numerous times, ‘I don’t even care what happened, I just want to move on,’” Glandian replied. “What that attack was pales in comparison to the attack on him by the mayor, by the CPD, by the press, by the public — ”

“He would be vindicated if these two were exposed as liars in a court of law, would he not?” Guthrie pressed.

“And we would want that, but what he’s been through after the fact has really been a much harsher attack than what he endured that night,” responded Glandian. “This wasn’t a very brutal attack, obviously it was frightening and something he did not deserve, but they didn’t beat him so badly that, you know, at this point he’s been victimized much more by what’s happened afterwards than by what happened that night.”

As for the Osundairo brothers, their attorney announced she was no longer representing them after the prosecutor’s reversal Tuesday. According to a report, she quit after the brothers would not make a public statement standing by their claim that Smollett paid them to orchestrate the attack.

Smollett is expected to attend Saturday’s NAACP Image Awards as he’s nominated for his work on Empire. “I hope he wins,” host Anthony Anderson told Variety. “I’m happy for him that the system worked for him in his favor because the system isn’t always fair, especially for people of color.”

The actor has maintained his innocence throughout this ordeal.

“I would not be my mother’s son if I was capable of one drop of what I was accused of,” he said on Tuesday. “I am a man of faith and I am a man that has knowledge of my history and I would not bring my family, our lives or the movement through a fire like this. I just wouldn’t.”

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