Jussie Smollett Sentenced to 150 Days in Jail for Staging His Own Attack and Lying About It

The "Empire" actor was convicted of lying to police about an alleged homophobic act he staged himself.

Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack he staged against himself. He shouted "I am not suicidal!" as he was led from a Chicago courtroom.

Smollett, 39, was convicted in December on five charges of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports about what he said was an anti-gay and anti-Black hate crime.

He faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison for each count.

Smollett grew increasingly agitated after the sentence was read. “I respect you, your honor,” Smollett said, his voice rising. "I respect your decision. Jail time? I am not suicidal. ... If anything happens to me in there I did not do it to myself!”

He also shouted he was innocent and pumped his fist in the air as deputies surrounded him.

Smollett , who is Black and gay, reported to Chicago police that he been jumped on the street in January 2019 by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, wrapped a noose around his neck, and poured bleach on him.

None of that was true, investigators said.

Cook County Judge James Linn admonished the actor for repeatedly lying to police and the public, portraying himself as the victim of a hate crime that he had orchestrated himself. The judge said he was particularly troubled by Smollett's motive.

“You wanted to make yourself more famous,” Linn said. “And for a while it worked. The lights were on you. You were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself.”

In addition to 150 days in jail, Smollett was also ordered to serve 30 months of felony probation, pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city, as well as pay a fine of $25,000.

During a marathon sentencing hearing Thursday that lasted five hours, Smollett's attorney read from letters of support, and members of his family spoke in his defense, saying he did not deserve to be behind bars. 

“Jussie is loved and respected by all that know him, and I ask you, judge not to send him to prison,” said Molly Smollett, the actor's 92-year-old grandmother. “If you do, send me along with him, OK?”

Some well-known community leaders and celebrities have recently come to Smollett's defense, asking the judge to not send him to jail. 

The Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote, "Jussie has a long track record of being a deeply engaged and contributing citizen" and "Jussie has already suffered."

Actor Samuel L. Jackson also wrote to the judge, saying, "I implore you to please find an alternative to incarceration."

The judge was unmoved by Smollett's supporters.

“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness and narcissism that’s just disgraceful. You're not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that’s shameful," Linn said.

Judge Linn had broad discretion in sentencing. He was allowed to order Smollett to probation, conditional discharge, community service, restitution or a combination of all those punishments. 

During a lengthy investigation, police said they determined his reports were false. Smollett was indicted in March 2019 on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. But then Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped all charges, saying Smollett had performed community service, forfeited his $10,000 bail bond and presented no danger to the community.

That decision prompted criticism that Smollett received special treatment because he was a celebrity. A special prosecutor was appointed to review the case, and second grand jury indictment was handed down in February 2020, charging Smollett with six felony counts. He was convicted on five of those charges.

The faked attack has derailed the actor's career. His character was written out of "Empire," and he hasn't acted in television or films since then. 

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