Published: Sun, March 31, 2019
Culture | By Margie Dunn

Charges dropped against Empire's Jussie Smollett over alleged hate crime fraud

Charges dropped against Empire's Jussie Smollett over alleged hate crime fraud

Friends and colleagues of Jussie Smollett are weighing in on the news that all the charges against the actor - who was accused of staging a hate crime against himself - have been dropped.

Kamran also notes that while the Chicago state prosecution will not be pursuing the case further, there is still an FBI investigation pending regarding the threatening letter Smollett allegedly received on the set of Empire.

The Chicago Police Department was perhaps the biggest (deserving) target of Black Twitter ire. He also said his attackers shouted, "This is MAGA country", an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again", and looped a rope around his neck.

The prosecutor's office cited Smollett's "volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago" for the surprise move, but said it had not exonerated him.

UPDATE 3/26/2019 12:45 p.m. ET: After appearing in court on Tuesday morning, Jussie Smollett delivered a statement to the media thanking his supporters and maintaining his honesty.

The news of Smollett's release has been criticised by Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who used their own press conference to question the ruling.

The station, citing several media outlets, said Graham wrote the Justice Department following reports that Foxx asked Police Superintendent Johnson to let the FBI investigate Smollett's allegations after the former chief of staff to former first lady Michelle Obama told Foxx that Smollett's family was concerned about the police probe.

"We wasted time and effort on a reported serious, serious crime, to get to the point that it's a lie?"

"I have been truthful and consistent on every level since day one", the actor said.

Much of Season 5 had already been filmed before Smollett reported being attacked at about 2 a.m. January 29 as he walked to his Streeterville apartment from a Subway sandwich shop.

She says Smollett is a crime victim and "just wants his life back".

Authorities alleged that Smollett, who is black and gay, knew the men and arranged for them to pretend to attack him.

Investigators conducted an investigation which led them to believe that Smollett paid two acquaintances - brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo - to help him stage the attack.

State Rep. Michael McAuliffe said Tuesday he plans to file legislation to withhold state film tax credits from any production employing actor Jussie Smollett.

Emanuel said the $10,000 Smollett surrendered "doesn't even come close to what the city spent in resources to actually look over the cameras, gather all the data, gather all the information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many multiple different charges".

"I do not believe he is innocent", First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Joseph Magats told CBS News on Tuesday afternoon after Smollett's legal team announced Magats' office had dismissed the charges.

Johnson expressed outrage over the sealing of the case, saying that he'd "never hide behind a brokered deal and secrecy".

Smollett said the letter contained racial and homophobic threats.

"His initial accusations about the accusers did not match the people who ended up apparently beating him up", said Shapiro. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result.

A spokeswoman for Raoul didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

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