CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) — “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was charged Wednesday with making a false police report when he alleged that he was attacked by two men who yelling homophobic and racial slurs.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said prosecutors charged Smollett with felony disorderly conduct, which carries a potential sentence of one to three years in prison if he is convicted. The charge also may result in Smollett picking up the tab for the investigation, which, considering the time police have invested in the case, may be substantial.
Smollett surrendered to authorities on Thursday and was released after posting a $100,000 bond, the Associated Press reported.
Two brothers, who had previously been identified as persons of interest in the investigation, have admitted to police that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack.
At a media briefing Thursday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett devised the plan to stage an assault because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox drama Empire, where he is cast in a supporting role. Police said he paid the two brothers $3,500 after a threatening letter he had allegedly sent to him at the Empire set in Chicago failed to attract media attention.
Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have maintained he did not play a role in his attack.
In a statement released on Wednesday Smollett’s attorneys said: “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.”
Apart from charges in Illinois, Smollett may face much more serious federal charges related to the threatening later he is alleged to have sent to himself.
There are a wide range of federal criminal statutes that protect the U.S. mail, including provisions against mailing threatening communications, mail fraud, and even a federal “hoax” statute. Fraud, which includes “any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses” carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison.