Smollett’s bail has been set at $100,000 – or his salary for roughly 1.5 episodes of Empire. He has also been ordered to surrender his passport.
As noted in the Chicago PD presser, Smollett paid the two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundario, with a personal check for $3,500.
Journalist Yashar Ali says that Smollett was making $65,000 per episode, while police say he staged the attack over not being paid enough. With an average 18-episode season, Smollett decided to stoke racial division across America because he thought $1.17 million per year wasn’t enough.
Fox, which has stood by Smollett until now, says it is “evaluating” the situation and considering options.
President Trump has weighed in, tweeting on Thursday: “@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?”
A visibly angry Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson kicked off the Jussie Smollett presser with a scathing admonishment of the Empire star.
“I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention, because that’s who really deserves the amount of attention that we’re giving to this particular incident,” Johnson began.
Johnson confirmed that Smollett staged the hate crime after a letter he sent to himself did not have the intended effect.
“This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked,” said Johnson, who added “This publicity stunt is a scar this city didn’t deserve.”
“Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?”
It was also revealed that more than 50 search warrants have been executed in the investigation.
Johnson also said that the Chicago PD has phone records which prove that Smollett and the brothers he paid to stage the attack were in communication before and after the attack, as well as while the brothers were outside of the country.
Watch the Chicago PD press conference on the Smollett arrest:
Empire actor Jussie Smollett surrendered himself to authorities Thursday morning after 5 a.m., after Chicago PD charged him with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report connected with a hate-crime hoax, reports ABC 7 Chicago.
“Jussie Smollet [sic] is under arrest and in custody of detectives,” tweeted Chicago PD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Chicago PD will conduct a press conference at 9 a.m., while Smollett is expected in bond court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday where a judge will formally read the charge against Smollett before he will be released. He will return to court at a later date to enter his plea.
The actor faces up to three years in prison and substantial crimes if convicted of the Class-4 felony.
Smollett claimed he was the victim of a predawn hate crime on January 27, in which he says two men assaulted him while he was on his way home after buying a sandwich; hurling racial and antigay slurs at him, dousing him in a liquid, placing a noose around his neck (which he was still wearing when police arrived later that morning), and punching him in the face.
The incident sparked national outrage – with the left-leaning mainstream media and prominent Democrats uncritically supporting Smollett’s version of events; holding it up as a prime example of violent Donald Trump supporters.
Then – two suspects in the case, Nigerian-American brothers Ola and Abel Osundario – one of whom has been an extra on Empire, told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 each in total to stage the “attack,” and that the three of them had practiced it beforehand. They also said that Smollett was involved in creating a racist letter containing a white substance that was sent to the actor on the Chicago set of Empire. When the letter failed to achieve the desired level of national outrage, the Osundario brothers say Smollett concocted the hate-crime.
Of note, police recovered a magazine and handwriting samples during a raid last week on a home shared by the brothers.
the attorney representing the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Thursday and said Smollett needs to come clean about what really happened.
“I think that Jussie’s conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened,” Schmidt. –ABC 7
Smollett’s high-powered attorneys fired back, saying in a statement: “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
According to CBS, “About a dozen search warrants have now been issued, including ones for Smollett’s financial and phone records, and detectives are waiting for those records to come back.”
Meanwhile, the FBI and US Postal Inspection Service are investigating the letter, sent to the Empire studio on Jan. 22, and whether Smollett was behind it as the Osundario brothers allege.
Wednesday evening ABC7 Eyewitness News obtained surveillance video of the Osundairo brothers linked to the reported attack from a beauty supply shop. The video shows the brothers purchasing items possibly used in the case.
Employees at Beauty House in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood said the brothers came to the business the day before the alleged attack. The store is a little more than a mile from their apartment, and a security guard said he remembers the siblings because they purchased ski masks. –ABC 7
Sources say that the brothers bought the rope used in the incident at the Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in the Ravenswood neighborhood during the weekend of Jan. 25.
Chicago PD confirmed the authenticity of the surveillance video, which shows the nervous brothers purchasing several items – including a red baseball cap, ski masks and gloves.
The brother asked security guard Montago Silas if the store sold ski masks, however the business did not have the traditional balaclava-type mask, according to ABC 7. Silas thought it was strange that the bought them anyway.
“It was bizarre because it was unusual for people to purchase these type of masks, not since the 70s, but I thought it was a little strange,” he said.
Surveillance video shows the brothers leaving the store, getting into a silver two-door coup and then driving away. Smollett reported the attack hours later.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, her office told ABC News on Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.”
“Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident. Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State’s Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor,” reads a statement from Foxx’s office.
Will prominent liberals delete their tweets of support for Jussie after using the incident as a political cudgel?