Jussie Smollett Allegedly Staged Attack Because He Was Dissatisfied With 'Empire' Salary, Cops Say
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Jussie Smollett surrendered to Chicago Police early Thursday morning after being charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct and police said the star "took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett committed the alleged crime "for personal gain" and added that he owes an "apology to the city he smeared," during a press conference Thursday.
Police say the "Empire" star filed a false police report when he claimed he was attacked by two masked men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him before putting a noose around his neck in Chicago on Jan. 29. Johnson said he believes the cuts and bruises on Smollett's face after the attack were self-inflicted.
Johnson also said the actor sent a threatening letter to himself at Fox Studios days before the attack.
"When that didn't work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process," Johnson said. "And why? The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary. So he concocted a story about being attacked."
Police were originally investigating the alleged assault as a hate crime, and support poured in for Smollett, but then the star's story allegedly began to unravel.
On Feb. 13, two Nigerian brothers, Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, who reportedly knew Smollett personally, were detained in connection with the alleged attack, but police now believe that Smollett hired the two brothers to carry out the attack on him.
The brothers were later released without charges after they decided, along with their attorneys, to cooperate with police.
They are now considered witnesses in the attack and testified for a grand jury before Smollett's arrest, police said.
"There was never a thought in their mind, we would track them down," Johnson said of the brothers.
Smollett has repeatedly denied he was involved in any wrongdoing and maintained his innocence in media interviews and through his attorneys.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson told Fox News. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
Inside Edition learned earlier Wednesday that Smollett was once prosecuted for lying to police in Los Angeles about his name, telling officers who pulled him over he was actually named "Jake" — his younger brother's name, court records show. He pleaded no contest in the case and was put on probation.
Smollett is expected to appear in court for a bail hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
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