the law

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to New Charges He Staged His Own Hate Crime

Jussie Smollett Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

A new chapter has been cracked open in Jussie Smollett’s captivating criminal case. Per court documents obtained by Vulture, a grand jury in Chicago indicted the Empire actor on Tuesday afternoon, issuing six new charges of disorderly conduct against Smollett. These charges allege that he “planned and participated” in staging a hate crime against himself in early 2019 with the help of two accomplices. The six-count indictment also states that Smollett made “four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime.” Special prosecutor Dan K. Webb, who extensively investigated the case for months, is spearheading the new charges after taking over from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. In the court documents, Webb asserts that “reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute” Smollett and it’s “in the interest of justice” to do such a thing.

Smollett’s previous criminal charges were dropped against him nearly a year ago by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. This decision angered the City of Chicago, which subsequently sued Smollett for police overtime and court costs. Due to the media circus that surrounded the case, Smollett was let go from his popular Fox show, Empire, and hasn’t acted in a year.

Smollett’s legal team has released a statement condemning the decision to pursue new charges. “This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett,” reads the statement by Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, according to the statement obtained by ET. “The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.” The statement also asserts that the Office of the Special Prosecutor hasn’t been able to find “any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges” against Smollett.

Per TMZ, the City of Chicago is still pressing on with its lawsuit against Smollett and “stands by our original complaint seeking to recover costs for Mr. Smollett’s false statements.” In return, the actor is also still pursuing his malicious prosecution counterclaim against the city.

On Monday, February 24, Smollett pleaded not guilty to six counts of disorderly conduct in a new criminal case tied to the January 29, 2019 incident, the Chicago Tribune reports. Smollett’s legal team requested a delay in the court proceedings in order to file paperwork with the Illinois Supreme Court to dismiss the indictment, claiming double jeopardy. Judge James Linn refused to delay the proceedings, setting a $20,000 individual bond and releasing Smollett on his own recognizance. Smollett is ordered to return to court on March 18.

This story has been updated throughout.

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