Chicago seeks 130,000 dollars from Jussie Smollett to cover investigation costs


Chicago seeks 130,000 dollars from Jussie Smollett to cover investigation costs

Jussie Smollett was accused of lying to police about being the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in Chicago.

Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County Court after his charges were dropped (Paul Beaty/AP)
Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County Court after his charges were dropped (Paul Beaty/AP)

Chicago city officials on Thursday ordered Empire actor Jussie Smollett to pay 130,000 dollars (£99,500) to cover the cost of the investigation into his report of a street attack that police say was staged to promote his career.

A letter from the city’s legal department to Smollett and his lawyers said the figure covers overtime worked by more than two dozen detectives and officers who spent weeks looking into Smollett’s claim, including reviewing video and physical evidence and conducting interviews.

Those resources, the letter said, “could have been used for other investigations”.

Hours earlier, President Donald Trump tweeted that the FBI and the Department of Justice would review the “outrageous” case, calling it an “embarrassment” to the country.

Prosecutors infuriated the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the police chief this week when they abruptly dropped 16 felony counts that accused Smollett of making a false police report about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in January.

Smollett has maintained his innocence and insisted that the attack was real.

The prosecution sealed the case, but authorities still say the actor concocted the assault.

Prosecutors offered no additional information Thursday during a court hearing where media attorneys argued that the public has a right to know what happened.

If Smollett fails to pay, city officials could take him to court to seek the reimbursement, as well as fines and court costs, the letter said.

In the past, city officials have sought restitution from other people who made false reports and from businesses that pursued city contracts by seeking disadvantaged business status.

Rahm Emanuel, right, and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson appeared at a news conference after prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett (Mitch Armentrout/Chicago Sun-Times/AP)

Investigators believe Smollett, who is black and gay, hired two brothers to stage the January 29 attack in central Chicago and that Smollett hoped the attention would help advance his career.


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Police also allege that before the attack, Smollett sent a letter threatening himself to the Chicago television studio where Empire is shot.

The FBI, which is investigating that letter, has declined to comment.

Smollett attorney Tina Glandian said the two brothers are lying. She said Smollett had hired one brother as a personal trainer but had no idea who attacked him along a Chicago street until the brothers were later identified by police.

Smollett has repeatedly said the two masked men shouted slurs, wrapped a rope around his neck and poured a substance on him.

He also told detectives that the attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” an apparent reference to Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan, police said.

Prosecutors initially charged Smollett with one felony count in February. A grand jury indicted him on 15 more counts earlier this month.

But in a stunning reversal Tuesday, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges, just five weeks after the allegations were filed.

In return, prosecutors said, the actor agreed to let the city keep his 10,000 dollars (£7,600) in bail.

Also among those sure to keep pressing for answers is Mr Emanuel. He appeared blindsided by the decision to drop the charges and visibly angry during a Tuesday news conference where he called the decision “a whitewash of justice”.

Press Association


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