Former “Empire” actor, Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019.
Jussie, 39, was found guilty in December of five charges of felony disorderly conduct after making false reports about the hoax attack carried out by two Nigerian brothers he had hired.
During the sentencing, Cook County Judge James Linn branded the Black and gay actor a narcissistic charlatan for staging a hate crime against himself to grab the limelight while the nation struggled with wrenching issues of racial injustice. Smollett responded by defiantly maintaining his innocence and suggesting he could be killed in jail.
“If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community,” Smollett said, standing up at the defense table as his lawyers and sheriff’s deputies surrounded him.
“Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”
As deputies led him from the courtroom, Smollett shouted out again.
“I am innocent,” he yelled, raising his fist. “I could have said I am guilty a long time ago.”
The judge sentenced Smollett to 30 months of felony probation, with 150 days served in Cook County Jail, and ordered that he pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Linn to include “an appropriate amount of prison time” when sentencing the actor for his conviction on five counts of disorderly conduct.
“His conduct denigrated hate crimes,” Webb said after the hearing. “His conduct will discourage others who are victims of hate crimes from coming forward and reporting those crimes to law enforcement.”
Smollett’s attorneys wanted the judge to limit the sentence to community service, arguing that he had already been punished by the criminal justice system and damage to his career.
At trial last year, a jury of six men and six women heard from brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who testified Smollett asked them to orchestrate the attack and paid them $3,500 to carry it out.
In a news conference following the sentencing, Smollett’s brother, Jojo Smollett, told reporters he was disappointed with the outcome.
“He shamed my brother. He spoke about his arrogance,” Jojo Smollett said. “He doesn’t know the struggles my brother is encountering. He doesn’t know anything that he’s dealing with.”
Jazz Smollett, the actor’s sister, called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”
“My brother is innocent,” Smollett’s sister said. “This should not be a controversial statement because it is the absolute truth.”
Special Prosecutor Daniel Webb said he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence, adding that Smollett’s “conduct denigrated hate crimes.” Webb said the judge’s comments showed “he clearly has understood … that this was a course of conduct that deserved severe punishment.”