On Thursday evening, Jussie Smollett was found guilty of paying two brothers to stage a fake homophobic and racist attack on himself and then falsely reporting it to the Chicago police department, the New York Daily News reported.
The former Empire star was convicted of five of the six counts against him including disorderly conduct for lying to cops about the incident. Back in February, he was acquitted of lying to a detective weeks after he claimed he was attacked.
Initially, Smollet was charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct, which were all dropped in March 2019 after he agreed to forfeit a $10,000 bond to the city and community service.
Jurors deliberated for nine hours from Wednesday until Thursday afternoon in Chicago and they heard 13 witnesses over the course of six days. Smollett himself took the stand in his own defense.
Smollett showed no emotion as he was surrounded by family when the verdict was read.
As EBONY previously reported, Smollett said he wrote the $3,500 check to Abimbola Osundairo for advice about training and nutrition, not to stage a fake hate crime
When asked by his attorney, Nenye Uche, if he paid Osundairo to orchestrate a hoax, Smollett replied: “Never.”
Uche asked again if he planned a hoax.
“No,” Smollett said, “there was no hoax.”
Smollett said “absolutely not” when asked if he gave $100 to the Osundairo to pay for supplies to stage the attack.
Dan K. Webb, the special prosecutor during the trial, said that Smollett’s actions resulted in Chicago police spending enormous resources investigating a hoax.
“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involves words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” Webb said.
Smollett’s guilty verdict was no surprise according to legal experts.
“Smollett is the epitome of narcissism and entitlement,” said Neama Rahmani, a former assistant U.S. attorney and the president and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers. “Not only did he lie to the Chicago Police Department, he doubled down on those lies and committed perjury when he told his shameful, fictional story to the jury. This is after he provided false information and lied to the Los Angeles Police Department when he was arrested for driving under the influence in 2007.”
Jaime White, a criminal attorney based in Michigan questioned Smollett’s legal team for allowing him to take the stand in his own defense.
“Essentially Smollett buried himself, with testimony that was full of nonsensical, irrelevant anecdotes,” White told the Daily News. “Nothing he said would help sway a jury to believe he was innocent, or even sensible.”
Smollett faces up to three years in prison, although he is likely to receive a lighter sentence because of his clean criminal record.