Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Happy Black History Month! Jussie Smollett Indicted - Wait For Detroit

Just wait for Detroit.


Jssie Smollett, former 'Empire' actor, indicted again in connection with alleged Chicago attack, clerk's office says

A special prosecutor filed six new charges against Jussie Smollett Tuesday for filing false police reports in an alleged attack in Streeterville in January 2019.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Cook County Clerk's Office confirmed Tuesday that special prosecutor Dan Webb has indicted former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in connection with the alleged attack in Streeterville in January 2019.

Webb released a statement, saying a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Smollett, charging him with making four separate false reports to Chicago police "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing he was not the victim of a crime."

Webb said he has arranged with Smollett's lawyers to have the actor voluntarily turn himself in for his arraignment on Feb. 24 at 9:30 a.m.

Smollett claimed he had been attacked by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him. He was originally charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the alleged attack. Police said Smollett staged the attack on himself because he was unhappy with his "Empire" salary.

WATCH: Timeline of Events in Jussie Smollett case

"Empire" actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett told Chicago police in January that two men physically attacked him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs. There have been dozens of twists and turns since then.

Police and prosecutors said Smollett orchestrated the attack with the help of the Osundairo brothers. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

The Osundairo brothers released a statement on the new charges, saying, "The Osundairo brothers are aware of the new charges brought against Jussie Smollett today by the grand jury. As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019. The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor's office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered."

All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February 2019 in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.

Webb, a former US Attorney in Chicago, was appointed as special prosecutor after the charges were dropped to review the Cook County State's Attorney's Office's decision.

Further prosecution of Smollett is "in the interest of justice," Webb said in a lengthy statement on the new charges Tuesday.

Webb said his investigation was into whether Smollett should be further prosecuted for alleged false police reports, and whether any person or office involved in the investigation engaged in any wrongdoing, including the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

He said he "disagrees with the state's attorney's" original decision to drop the charges against Smollett after he was initially indicted, said he found the evidence "was strong" and that the state's attorney provided no proof there was no evidence that would have justified dropping the case against the actor, or previous similar case history.

He said he has not yet reached any conclusions as to the second part of the investigation, including in regards to the State's Attorney's Office, and that his investigation into whether any person or office involved in the investigation engaged in wrongdoing is ongoing.

At a Tuesday afternoon news conference where a group of African American pastors were endorsing her, Webb was accused of trying to influence the March 17 primary in which Foxx's opponents have tried to make the Smollett case a political issue.

"It's very interesting that Dan Webb at this moment, as we are a month away from an election, is now offering charges," said Rev. Otis Moss, III. "This seems very similar to when James Comey intervened in reference to the national election, and so we are seeing, at this moment, some politicization of this particular election. And as a coalition we will not stand for people who are trying to step in and muddy the waters. We need people who are ethical, who are qualified, and who are progressive."

Foxx spoke at the same event.

"I am an elected leader and I have to be accountable for the actions of not only myself but my office. And I don't run from that responsibility," she said.

She added that, as she said before, she believes her mistake was in how transparent her office was about their handling of the Smollett case.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office released a formal statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, "As the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does in all cases, the Special Prosecutor reviewed the facts, evidence, and the law, and determined charges were appropriate in this matter. We are unable to comment further as the matter is pending."

Judge Orders Special Prosecutor To Examine Smollett Probe

CHICAGO (AP/WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A veteran Cook County Judge decided Friday that a special prosecutor will be appointed to look at how the Jussie Smollett case was handled by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Jussie Smollett could still face criminal charges. 

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin cited unprecedented irregularities in how State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the case - improperly recusing herself, but not her office, after having contact with Smollett representatives and then quietly dropping 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.

Foxx had been in contact with a relative of Smollett and had been approached by former first lady Michelle Obama's one-time chief of staff on behalf of Smollett's family, and she explained at the time that she was recusing herself to avoid "even the perception of a conflict" of interest.

In his ruling, Toomin said he had no problem with Foxx's recusal, but that she had no right to select someone from her office to handle the prosecution, saying what she did amounted to naming her own special prosecutor.

"There isn't an office of the 'acting state's attorney.' It existed only ... in the imagination of Ms. Foxx," Judge Toomin said.

Foxx has been under fire for her handling the investigation, including from the Chicago Police Department and the former mayor. Her office charged Smollett with 16 counts of disorderly conduct after police concluded that Smollett had staged the early-morning Jan. 29 attack on himself and had paid two acquaintances to help him pull it off. But it stunningly dropped all of the charges weeks later, prompting an outcry from police and leading a former state appellate judge, Sheila O'Brien, to call for a special prosecutor.

In calling for a special prosecutor, O'Brien said it appeared to her and others that Smollett had "received special treatment" from Foxx's office.

“I did this because it had to be done and no one had done it,” she said. “The law of the special prosecutor is very obvious and it is very clear. It had to be done. Somebody had to do this and who was going to do it – the other state’s attorneys? They can’t do that to their own boss.

“The most important thing, as the judge indicated, the confidence in our judicial system will be restored to all of us; that this case will be handled by somebody who does not have a conflict,” O'Brien said.

Foxx defended her handling of the case and said she would welcome an independent investigation. But her office opposed such a special prosecutor, explaining that the investigation would just duplicate the efforts of a county inspector general's office probe that is already underway.

Jussie Smollett can still be tried for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself.

Gloria Schmidt, the attorney for the Osundairo brothers who were allegedly paid by Smollett to stage the attack, said they are fully ready to cooperate.

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