Chicago, IL – “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was indicted by a grand jury on Friday for allegedly staging the attack on himself and reporting the hoax to police.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced that the grand jury had returned a 16-count indictment that said Smollett had lied to police twice, WLS reported.
Smollett is facing 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for the false police report he filed in January, NBC News reported.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct on Feb. 20.
The 36-year-old actor turned himself in at the Chicago Police Department’s 1st District at 5 a.m. on Feb. 21, to face felony disorderly conduct charges for filing a false police report. He was released on bond later the same day.
Chicago police have said they believe Smollett lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
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.
He said police have obtained phone records that “clearly indicate” Smollett and the Osundairo brothers talked to each other quite a bit before and after the staged attack, as well as while the brothers were out of the country.
Superintendent Johnson also said that Smollett had beaten himself up before he went to the hospital.
“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attacked where they punched him a little bit. But as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted,” the superintendent explained.
He said that he believed the actor wanted the faked attack caught on camera, but the particular camera he chose to perform in front of wasn’t pointed the right direction.
The superintendent said chasing down bogus leads “put out in the universe” by the media wasted a lot of the police’s time during the investigation.
He said detectives interviewed more than 100 people, and located 35 police surveillance cameras and 20 private-sector security cameras along the route the Smollett claimed he took the night of the attack.
“These detectives deserve all the credit in the world for carefully analyzing the leads and evidence for weeks before coming to their conclusion,” Superintendent Johnson said.
Smollett pleaded not guilty to the initials felony disorderly conduct charge for having filed a fake police report. He claimed the $3,500 check to the Osundairo brothers was for training and nutritional guidance.
The actor’s legal team told WLS they were not expecting the indictment and were working on a response.