Chicago, IL – A Cook County jury on Thursday found former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett guilty of faking a hate crime against himself in 2019.
The jury found Smollett guilty of lying to police in five of the six disorderly conduct charges against him, CNN reported.
The sixth count was a charge for lying to a detective weeks after Smollett initially reported the attack to police, FOX News reported.
Each Class 4 felony count carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The judge will have the discretion at sentencing to determine whether the five sentences will run concurrently or consecutively, CNN reported.
Many legal experts have predicted that Smollett will not spend any time behind bars and will instead get probation and community service hours.
The jury panel that heard the case was made up of six men and six women who deliberated for less than 10 hours over a two-day period before returning a verdict on Dec. 9, CNN reported.
Smollett faced six felony disorderly conduct charges for orchestrating the attack he claimed had been perpetrated by two white supporters of President Donald Trump as the actor was walking home from a Subway restaurant on Jan. 29, 2019.
The whole saga began when Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8, 2019 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, 2019, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
But despite that legal wrangling over dollars and cents, Smollett wasn’t in the clear.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
Webb indicted Smollett on new charges on Feb. 11, 2020.
In March of 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Smollett’s attorneys’ request to stop criminal proceedings against the actor.
Smollett’s attorneys asked the state’s highest court to issue a stay in the criminal case, dismiss the indictment against the actor, and vacate the prior court order that established Webb as the special prosecutor in the case using the same double-jeopardy argument, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Smollett’s attorneys have repeatedly asserted that Smollett is being subjected to double-jeopardy since he already forfeited a $10,000 fine and did community service in exchange for a prior dismissal of the charges.
“A deal is a deal. That’s ancient principle,” Smollett’s attorney, Nenye Uche, said in court on Oct. 15.