‘It’s time to come clean’: Jussie Smollett is chided for refusing to admit he made up story of homophobic MAGA attack as prosecutor says Chicago Police Department wasted $100,000 investigating hoax
Jussie Smollett was found guilty on Thursday of lying to police on five different occasions in January 2019
Smollett 39, is now facing 20 years behind bars; a sentencing date has not yet been set
Smollett said nothing as he left the courtroom on Thursday, flanked by his family and his friends
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb reminded the public that Chicago PD spent $100,000 and devoted 26 cops working round the clock to investigate Smollett’s allegations
‘Maybe the CPD is not perfect, but what they did on this case was extraordinary’ he said on Thursday
The police force has not yet responded to the guilty verdict; Smollett said at trial he never trusted them
The lawyer for Nigerian brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo said: ‘It is time [for Smollett], to cut the act. Just come clean.’
Smollett who was dropped by the TV drama ‘Empire’, won a wave of support initially but most of whom are now silent regarding his exposure as a fraud
Jussie Smollett has been shamed for still refusing to admit that he staged a hoax race attack yesterday after being found guilty by a jury of five counts of lying to police.
The 39-year-old actor stood rigid and showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts on five of the six counts of disorderly conduct were read out in the Chicago courtroom by Judge James Linn on Thursday.
He then scuttled out of court with his family, refusing to answer questions, and he is yet to make a public comment. His sentencing date has not yet been set but he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
After Smollett left the courthouse, prosecutor Dan Webb tore him to shreds in front of the media and a crowd of people who had gathered for the verdict.
He shamed Smollett for wasting police time and said while the Chicago Police Department was not ‘perfect’, it had worked tirelessly to solve his claims and took him seriously.
‘For Mr Smollett to get up and lie for hours and hours, that really compounded his misconduct,’ said Webb, reminding journalists that 26 police officers spent 3,000 hours probing the fake attack against Smollett in a bid to help the disgraced actor find the people who he falsely claimed attacked him.
Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for Abel and Ola Osundairo, the brothers Smollett paid to stage his attack, then took the mic pleading with Smollett: ‘People will forgive you. It is time to cut the act. Just come clean. What I know of you, what I personally know of you, interacting with you in the court proceedings is that you are a warm person, you seem to be a generous person. You always greeted me and my staff. I personally forgive you and I know many other people will too,’ she said.
Ola Osundairo was the only brother who attended the verdict. Abel was participating in a boxing match.
He said: ‘I’m sorry I won’t be using my Nigerian accent tonight. I just wanted to wish my brother luck tonight in his boxing match and Nigerian American lives matter!’
After Jussie Smollett was found guilty on five of six charges of disorderly conduct he left the court without responding to questions shouted by reporters.
‘We respect the judiciary, the trial by jury process, we’re obviously very disappointed,’ said Nenye Uche, Smollett’s lawyer, who also revealed plans to appeal.
‘We obviously respectfully disagree with the jury’s verdict. The verdict is inconsistent. You cannot say that Jussie is lying and Jussie is not lying for the same exact incidents.
‘So we feel 100 per cent confident that this case will be won on appeal. Unfortunately that’s not the route we wanted, but sometimes that’s the route you have to take to win.’
Asked how Smollett was, Uche replied: ‘He’s a human being, he’s disappointed, he’s holding up and he’s 100 per cent confident he’s going to be cleared by an appellate court
Each of the level four felony counts Smollett has been convicted of carries a sentence of up to four years behind bars. Smollett has no prior convictions, but his decision to deny the charges, and present an unconvincing and ultimately unsuccessful defense to jurors means a judge is more likely to give him a harsher sentence.
‘This jury worked so hard – and for Mr Smollett to get up and lie for hours and hours, that really compounded his misconduct,’ said Webb, the special prosecutor.
‘We don’t expect defendants to do that. Defendants have a right to go to trial, but do not have the right to go in front of a jury and lie under oath.
‘Mr Smollett would not have lost this case, had the jury not concluded that he’d lied to them.
‘The fact that he came up with a completely ridiculous story to explain his misconduct did not affect the verdict.’
‘We’ve now won this case. We’ve come away with the jury agreeing that they should have heard the case, and he’s now been found guilty.’
Webb said he did not think Smollett would be charged with perjury – lying under oath – as it was not common practice to do so for defendants who are ultimately convicted of the charges they face.
‘The resounding verdict which we received form this jury which they found Mr Smollett guilty of exactly what we said he did…that verdict was a resounding message by the jury that Mr Smollett did exactly what we said he did,’ he said. ‘After hearing all the evidence, whether what Mr Smollett was right or wrong was very controversial. Whether we won or lost the trial was not the issue, what was the issue was that what Mr Smollett had done in this city should be aired in a public trial, all the evidence comes out, but the true facts, I thought, needed to come out.
Webb also praised the Chicago police department for untangling the web of lies spun by Smollett.
‘This police department responded that they absolutely took it seriously, he was the victim of a hate crime,’ he said. ‘They worked so hard, for the next three weeks 26 police officers spent over 3,000 hours investigating a hate crime that did not take place, and denigrates real hate crimes.
‘The work they did was extraordinary. I have told the jury that what happened here was so wrong for the CPD. Maybe the CPD is not perfect, but what they did on this case was extraordinary.’
On social media, conservatives pointed out that many Democrats were quick to blame Trump supporters and accept Smollett’s version of events.
Ben Shapiro, former editor of DailyWire.com, trolled all those who had expressed sympathy for Smollett in 2019 – among them Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
‘Never forget that Kamala Harris called Jussie Smollett’s FAKE situation a “modern-day lynching”,’ tweeted Lauren Boebert, the stridently pro-Trump Colorado congresswoman.
‘Today a jury found him GUILTY of lying about the whole thing.’
Radio host Buck Sexton said: ‘Jussie Smollett’s obvious hoax was an intelligence test that millions of liberals failed from day one- Including Biden and Kamala.’
The actor had returned to court on Thursday evening after around eight hours of deliberations to learn his fate with his family by his side, after being given a 30 minute warning around 5:30pm EST. He was photographed walking into court arm-in-arm with his mother.
Smollett arrived at the courthouse in a black Lincoln SUV shortly after it was announced the verdict had been reached. He wore a long gray coat, white shirt, black tie, black scarf and black leather gloves, as well as a black face mask.
The actor did not answer when asked by reporters what his desired outcome for the case was and if he was nervous to learn the jury’s decision.
His trial has lasted just under two weeks and concluded on Wednesday with five hours of closing arguments, during which Smollett, whose biggest role was on Empire, was branded a ‘serial liar’ by the prosecution.
He denied paying Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo – two Nigerian brothers who he knew – to stage the attack to boost his celebrity profile, as police had alleged.
His attorney failed to offer a motive for why the brothers might have lied, suggesting that it could have been because Abel was pretending not to be gay and Ola was a homophobe, or also that they wanted him to hire them as security guards so scared him into thinking that he needed them.
The case now draws to an end nearly three years after Smollett first claimed he had been the victim of the hate crime. Smollett, now 39, was supported by his family throughout the trial, as he has been over the last three years.
He could not explain why the brothers were there that night if it was not to attack him as they claimed he’d instructed them to do.
Among the claims he made during his testimony was that the brothers offered to change their story and retract their allegations that he’d paid them to stage the attack if he gave them $2million.
His attorneys said both of the brothers were ‘sophisticated’, seasoned criminals when in fact only one of them has a criminal record.
Gloria Schmidt Rodriguez, a lawyer for the Osunadairo brothers, said they ‘could not be more thrilled and pleased with the verdict’.
‘Humans are forgiving,’ said Schmidt.
‘It is time to cut the act. Just come clean.’
She said the brothers forgave Smollett, but were considering taking civil legal action.
Legal experts were dumbfounded that Smollett took the stand.
They called it a ‘disaster’ and a desperate attempt to either confuse the jury so they’d have no choice but to acquit, or save his defense.
It is a devastating blow for the former child actor who won millions of fans as gay black musician Jamal Lyon in the Fox TV drama.
His character was removed from the final two episodes of the series’ fifth season because of the assault controversy – and he admitted in court: ‘I’ve lost my livelihood’.
The black and gay actor created massive headlines and sparked a police manhunt after he falsely told cops he was attacked near his downtown Chicago apartment building around 2am on January 29, 2019 – leaving him with a noose around his neck.
Celebrities and advocacy groups rallied around him. Former president Donald Trump branded the attack ‘horrible’.
But his story began to unravel publicly within weeks of him claiming it was two white men in dark clothes and ski masks who pounced after he went out in freezing temperatures with the intention of buying eggs.
He said he was punched by one of them who yelled ‘this is MAGA country n*****’ in reference to Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan. A noose was put around his neck and an unknown substance poured on him, he claimed. Smollett insisted to police at first that the attackers were white, because he saw a glimpse of skin in a gap in one of the men’s ski masks. He filed a hate crime and battery report.
In fact the fake attack was carried out by Nigerian brothers Abimbola and Olanbinjio Osundairo who the star had paid $3,500. And the actor changed his story, saying in court his attackers had ‘pale’ skin.
The brothers left for Nigeria shortly after the hoax and were arrested when they returned mid-February. They cooperated with the police, saying they were hired for the attack.
Smollett was first arrested in February, 2019, on allegations that he made a false police report. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed at the time the star staged the stunt because he was ‘dissatisfied’ with his $100,000 an episode salary on Empire.
The cop added Smollett ‘took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career… this publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve’.
Smollett was hit with 16 disorderly conduct charges.
But at his first arraignment in March these were suddenly dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, sparking fury with cops and then-mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb took on the case in 2020, after Kim Foxx’s office dropped a first set of charges against him in a decision that was widely criticized as an example of nepotism.
She had been in contact with one of Smollett’s sisters in the days and weeks before he was arrested or was a suspect in the case.
She also spoke with Tina Chen, Michelle Obama’s associate and friend who was also part of founding #MeToo.
Chen has since said she was never trying to influence the investigation and that Smollett was a victim at the time.
However a year later Special Prosecutor Webb announced the six new felony charges against Smollett after a grand jury revived the criminal case against him.
And Webb nailed Smollett by branding him a liar in his closing arguments at Chicago’s Leighton Criminal Courthouse this week – with the jury agreeing.
Webb said there was ‘no question’ the Osundairo brothers carried out the hoax attack. He added: ‘And there is no question that Mr Smollett is the person who orchestrated it.
‘Mr Smollett went on that witness stand and made many, many false statements to you, he lied under oath to you jurors in the course of this trial.
‘I clearly established he was providing you false testimony on critical issues. I cross examined him yesterday because it was clear to me that he was tailoring his testimony.
‘He knew there was a substantial amount of evidence that showed he did exactly what the brothers said he did. And he knew there was surveillance and GPS evidence.’
The star had hired Abimbola, known as Bola, as fitness coach to help him get ‘ripped’ for a music video, the court heard. They met for the first time in 2017 on the set of Empire when the Nigerian was working as an extra.
Bola took the stand and told jurors that Smollett had asked him to ‘fake beat him up’ – and wanted him to use an anti-gay slur and say MAGA during a staged attack.
He said he and Smollett had a brotherly bond. ‘We became good friends. I would say I would call him my brother,’ he added.
‘I was confused. I looked puzzled,’ he told jurors. ‘He explained that he wanted me to fake beat him up.
‘I agreed to do it because.. I felt indebted to Jussie. I also believed he could help further my acting career. He told me that we needed another person to fake beat him up. He mentioned, could my brother do it. I said yes.’
In the aftermath the Chicago Police Chief who arrested Jussie Smollett with lying to cops back in 2019 has revealed he would let him off with an apology and wouldn’t have pursued criminal charges if he’d admitted lying three years ago. Eddie Johnson was head of Chicago police department when Smollett staged the hoax.