Chicago, IL – An investigative report released Monday by the special prosecutor in Chicago who convicted Jussie Smollett exposed the “major failure’ of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office in prosecuting the actor and exposed the fact Foxx had been lying to the public.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb released the damning 60-page investigation that showed Foxx and others in her office made multiple false statements in March of 2019 when they initially charged Smollett with lying about the hate attack he orchestrated on himself, the New York Post reported.
Foxx claimed to have cut off contact with Smollett’s sister, Jurnee Smollett, after her older brother became a suspect.
But the report found that five days after she publicly claimed to have stopped speaking to Smollett’s family members about the case, the state’s attorney exchanged 17 text messages with and had five phone conversations with the suspect’s little sister, the New York Post reported.
Then Foxx’s office unceremoniously dismissed the 16-count indictment against the former “Empire” star less than three weeks later in exchange for forfeiting his $10,000 bond and 16 hours of community service.
Foxx recused herself from the case after it became clear that police were considering the “Empire” star a suspect in a hoax crime, but before her office dismissed the charges.
However, she handled it improperly, prompting yet another investigation and a mass exodus by Foxx’s staff.
A year later, Webb indicted Smollett all over again.
The special prosecutor released a summary of his investigation last summer ahead of Smollett’s trial, but the full report was held back until after the actor was convicted of faking a hate crime on himself on Dec. 9.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, who appointed Webb to the case, had declined to release the report because it contained grand jury information that was usually kept secret, WBBM reported.
But Toomin allowed Webb to release the full report after the trial was finished.
Webb’s investigation cleared Foxx’s office of a crime in connection with the Smollett case but said there had been “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures,” WBBM reported.
“I interviewed [Foxx], and I talked to her and said, how could this have happened?” Webb said. “And she could not defend it, so I do think that that’s a pretty significant admission.”
His investigation did find possible ethical problems with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s (CCSAO) handling of the case, WBBM reported.
When the charges were dropped against Smollett, Foxx told reporters the case had been “treated like the other cases that have gone through our alternative prosecution model.”
However, the special prosecutor’s report determined that was not true, WBBM reported.
“There were not thousands of (or, arguably any) similar cases that the CCSAO resolved in a similar way to the Initial Smollett Case,” the report read.
Foxx’s statement was “unacceptable for an office that must be transparent and maintain public confidence,” according to the special prosecutors report.
“Never, ever, ever on any occasion have they ever resolved a case this way,” Webb told WBBM. “They couldn’t give me one case that had ever occurred in the past.”
Webb ultimately determined that the decision to drop charges against Smollett “represented a major failure of operations” in the state’s attorney’s office.
The report also revealed that former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had not exaggerated when he claimed the police learned charges would be dismissed against Smollett just moments before it happened, according to WBBM.
Webb’s report also revealed that Foxx was lying when she told the media “The state statute max we are allowed to get for restitution is $10,000.”
The state’s attorney treated the special prosecutor’s report like good news when it was released and Foxx put out a statement that said it “puts to rest any implications of outside influence or criminal activity on the part of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD).”’
Foxx defended the integrity of the state’s attorney’s office in her statement.
She disputed Webb’s “characterizations of its exercises of prosecutorial discretion and private or public statements as ‘abuses of discretion’ or false statements to the public,” WBBM reported.
“While the release does not say so, any implication that statements made by the CCSAO were deliberately inaccurate is untrue,” the statement continued. “As a result of the issues addressed in the press release, and of discussions of them beforehand, the CCSAO has already made a number of changes to its operations, including the hiring of a new CCSAO ethics officer and more separation of their function from the administration of the office, and strengthening the recusal plan with clear guidelines and explicit definitions of conflicts of interest.”
Smollett’s sentencing date has not yet been set, according to WBBM.
Each of the five Class 4 felony counts he was convicted of carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine, but most legal experts have predicted Smollett will likely get probation and community service.