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A Chicago jury found actor Jussie Smollett guilty Thursday on felony charges of disorderly conduct after he staged a phony hate crime against himself, then proceeded to file a false police report.
Following nearly nine hours of deliberation over two days, the Cook County jury announced it reached its verdict in the case which stemmed from a January 2019 incident where Smollett, 39, falsely claimed he was attacked by two Trump supporters wearing MAGA hats.
Smollett was found guilty on 5 of 6 felony disorderly conduct counts, each carrying a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
Following the announcement, Smollett’s lawyer declared they would appeal the verdict saying, ““We feel 100% confident that this case will be won on appeal.”
Lead Smollett defense attorney Nenye Uche says, “We feel 100% confident that this case will be won on appeal” pic.twitter.com/4T3yAkYnXU— Sam Charles (@samjcharles) December 10, 2021
“It’s clearly a violation of the law to go to the police and report to police a fake crime and tell police it’s a real crime,” special prosecutor Dan Webb told the jury, according to the New York Post.
“To outright denigrate something as serious, as heinous, as a real hate crime, to denigrate it and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such horrible historical significance in our country was just plain wrong to do it and he did.”
Prosecutors in the case told jurors Smollett had orchestrated the fake hate crime with the help of two brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who testified Smollett had paid them $3,500 to help him stage the attack.
NBC News reports Chicago prosecutors had opted to drop all charges against Smollett in March 2019, “but the actor insisted he wasn’t lying and his team lashed out at police for accusing him of pulling a hoax.”
A lawsuit was launched by the City after Smollett refused to acquiesce to a demand to pay $130,000 for overtime after wasting police resources to investigate the phony hate crime.
After Foxx recused herself, a special prosecutor was assigned to review the way previous prosecutors handled the case.
Fox News reports:
Months after the prosecutors dropped the charges with little explanation, a judge appointed a special prosecutor, former U.S. attorney Dan Webb, to look into the original investigation.
Webb eventually determined that Smollett “planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred.”
After Webb’s investigation, a Cook County grand jury in February 2020 returned a new six-count indictment charging Smollett with making multiple false reports to Chicago police.
Smollett pleaded not guilty and his defense team filed a motion to dismiss the latest charges over double-jeopardy, but a judge shot that down in June 2020. Smollett still claimed he did nothing wrong, telling TMZ he’s innocent.
The AP had a breakdown of each of the counts against Smollett and what they represented.
Count 1 accuses him of telling responding Chicago Police Officer Muhammed Baig at around 2:45 a.m., some 45 minutes after the purported attack, that he was the victim of a hate crime. He said two attackers put a rope around his neck. Count 2 refers to Smollett telling the same officer he was a victim of a battery, describing attackers beating and pouring bleach on him.
Counts 3 and 4 are when Smollett made the same claims but to a different officer, Kimberly Murray, later that morning, at just before 6 a.m.
Count 5 accuses Smollett of again telling Murray at around 7:15 p.m. that he was the victim of a battery. Count 6 refers to Smollett reporting on Feb. 14, 2019, to detective Robert Graves that he’d been a victim of an aggravated battery.
The fake incident prompted many politicians to blame racism for the former “Empire” actor’s attack.
Two such politicians, US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, tweeted about Smollett’s fabricated attack on the same day it was alleged to have happened, claiming he was the target of a “modern day lynching” due to the color of his skin.
What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie. https://t.co/o8ilPu68CM— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 30, 2019
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
Smollett had appeared alongside Harris during a 2018 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in California in 2018.
Smollett faces up to 15 years in prison, however it’s been speculated he could receive a light sentence based on a clean criminal record and the fact there was no actual victim in the crime.
“Cook County Judge James Linn will have discretion in imposing a concurrent or consecutive sentence for each count at a later date,” CNN reports.
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