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Grand jury indicts ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett on 16 federal counts

Grand jury indicts ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett on 16 federal counts
Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 20:51:28-05

CHICAGO – A grand jury in Chicago returned 16 federal counts against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett Friday for falsely reporting a hate crime against him in January, CBS Chicago reports.

The grand jury returned the disorderly conduct indictment Thursday.

“Jussie Smollett knew that at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed,” according to the indictment, which expands the case against Smollett.

Jussie Smollett

CBS Chicago says the counts focus on allegedly false statements Smollett made to two different Chicago Police officers. Each count covers separate alleged acts that he falsely described to police, including that two men hit him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him and poured a chemical on him.

However, officers now believe he orchestrated the attack in a bid for publicity.

Smollett has denied any involvement in orchestrating an attack.

Smollett was charged in February with felony disorderly conduct. The judge granted a $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond. He was ordered to give up his passport and will remain under supervision until his case is adjudicated.

“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,” Smollett’s attorneys said in February.

The subsection of the Illinois law states: “A person commits disorderly conduct when he or she knowingly … (4) Transmits or causes to be transmitted in any manner to any peace officer, public officer or public employee a report to the effect that an offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed, knowing at the time of the transmission that there is no reasonable ground for believing that the offense will be committed, is being committed, or has been committed.”

The producers behind “Empire” decided to remove Smollett’s character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the season. The decision was made to “avoid further disruption on set,” producers said.

A spokesperson for Fox said Friday the company has no comment.

CNN contributed to this report

Click here for our full coverage on the Jussie Smollett case