Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was handed felony probation for 30 months, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and $25,000 in fines for making false reports to police alleging a hate crime.
KAMPALA | LIFESTYLE UGANDA (https://lifestyleuganda.com/) — Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced Thursday to 30 months of felony probation and 150 days in jail, plus $120,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019.
- Jussie Smollett, former actor of ‘Empire’, was jailed for lying to police in hate crime hoax.
- Jojo Smollett, Smollett’s brother, said he was disappointed in the sentencing.
- In a statement, Smollett’s sister Jazz called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”
When the judge announced the sentence, Smollett lowered his face mask and announced that he was innocent, CNN reports.
“Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this,” Smollett told the judge, before turning to the court. 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.”
Before passing sentence, Cook County Judge James Linn spoke for more than 30 minutes, telling Smollett that he wrote the script and chose the actors for the hoax, and that his premeditation for doing so was aggravating.
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“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance, selfishness and narcissism that’s just disgraceful,” the judge said. “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that’s shameful.”
In December, Jussie Smollett was convicted of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports about what he said was an anti-gay and anti-black hate crime.
The Black and gay actor told police that on a frigid night in January 2019, two unknown men attacked him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his throat.
Politicians and celebrities came to his defense, and police investigated the case as a possible hate crime. However, they soon determined that he staged the incident for publicity and paid two brothers from the Fox drama “Empire” to stage the incident.
While Smollett maintained his innocence under oath during the trial, the jury ultimately found him guilty of five of six counts of felony charges after nine hours of deliberations.
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A conviction for disorderly conduct for the filing of a false crime report can lead to up to three years in prison; however, it is rare for a judge to sentence an offender with no previous felony conviction to prison time.
According to prosecutors, Jussie Smollett should receive an “appropriate” sentence because he has never taken responsibility for his actions and may have hurt the efforts of real hate crime victims to speak up.
Smollett’s attorneys argued that he should receive a lenient punishment like probation because of his criminal history and community service, which they documented with several letters.
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Before announcing the sentence, the judge spoke of the leading figures in social justice circles who asked for a lenient sentence for Smollett.
“You do have quite a record of real community service and quite a record of attaching with people,” the judge said. “I’m mindful of pleas of mercy, particularly from people that are in the arena.”
”But ultimately, the judge said, this act showed Smollett’s “dark side.”
Tina Glandian, Smollett’s attorney, also argued the guilty verdict should be overturned and a new trial granted based on legal errors during the trial. Judge Linn denied the defense’s request because he believed Smollett received a fair trial.
Jojo Smollett, Smollett’s brother, expressed disappointment in the sentencing during a news conference after the sentence was handed down.
“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.”
On the night of the attack, Chicago Police bodycam footage showed Smollett with a noose around his neck. He testified that he took off the noose after the attack, but put it back on again to show police the noose.
According to the actor’s sister, Jazz Smollett, the decision is a “miscarriage of justice.”
In a statement, Special Prosecutor Daniel Webb said he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence, adding that Smollett’s “conduct denigrated hate crimes.” Webb said that the judge’s comments showed that “this was behaviour that deserved severe punishment.”
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