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Breaking: Jussie Smollett indicted on multiple new criminal charges over his hoax attack last year

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Update:

Dan K. Webb, special prosecutor for Cook County, today announced that the Office of the Special Prosecutor (“OSP”) has now completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett. Based on the recommendation of the OSP, a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Jussie Smollett with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime.

The indictment results from an investigation that began on August 23, 2019, when Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin appointed Mr. Webb as a special prosecutor.

By Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Actor Jussie Smollett is facing new criminal charges nearly a year after Cook County prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct counts against him for allegedly orchestrating a racist, homophobic attack on himself early last year.

The new charges are just the latest twist in the Smollett saga, which ignited a firestorm of controversy for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx when the original case against the actor was set aside.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay, told police he was attacked by two men near his home in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on a frigid night last January. The men shouted slurs and hung a noose around his neck, he said.

But the actor, best known for his now-ended role on Fox’s “Empire” TV show, eventually turned from victim to suspect, and in a Hollywood twist, police said that the entire thing was a hoax, and that Smollett actually staged the assault from start to finish.

Smollett was charged with faking the crime — but in another surprising turn just a few weeks later, Foxx’s office dropped all 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct with little explanation at an unannounced court hearing.

In August, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb was named a special prosecutor and given a broad mandate to investigate the case, including looking into whether Smollett should again be criminally charged for his actions that night.

Prosecutors originally alleged that Smollett staged the attack because he was unhappy with the “Empire” studio’s response to a threatening letter he received at work a week earlier. Chicago police leaders took it a step further, accusing Smollett of faking the letter as well. The mailing had been part of a parallel federal investigation of the incident.

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©2020 Chicago Tribune

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