Jussie Smollett, the former “Empire” actor, was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison, 150 days probation, $120,000 restitution, and a $25,000 fine after falsely reporting to the police in January 2019 that he was the victim of a hate crime.
KAMPALA | LIFESTYLE UGANDA (https://lifestyleuganda.com/) — Jussie Smollett, former star of “Empire,” was sentenced Thursday to 30 months felony probation, 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine for reporting to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019.
- Jussie Smollett, former actor of ‘Empire’, jailed for lying to police in hate crime hoax
- Sister Jazz Smollett called the decision a “miscarriage of justice.”
- Jojo Smollett, Smollett’s brother, said he was disappointed in the sentencing.
In response to the judge’s announcement, Smollett lowered his face mask and insisted he was innocent, CNN reports.
In his lengthy statement before announcing Smollett’s sentence, Cook County Judge James Linn said that Smollett wrote the script and chose the actors for the hoax and that his premeditation made the case more aggravating.
A jury found Jussie Smollett guilty in December of five counts of felony disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a crime he said was anti-gay and anti-Black.
The actor, a Black gay man, told Chicago police in January 2019 that two unknown men assaulted him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach over him and tied a noose around his neck.
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Many celebrities and politicians rushed to his defense publicly, and Chicago police investigated the case as a hate crime. However, they found he orchestrated the incident and paid two brothers he knew from the Fox drama “Empire” to stage the incident.
Smollett testified under oath during the trial that he was innocent, but the jury convicted him on five of six felony charges after nine hours of deliberations.
It is rare for a judge to sentence an offender with no prior felony convictions to prison time for disorderly conduct for a false crime report. A conviction is punishable by up to three years in prison for disorderly conduct for a false crime report.
According to prosecutors, the actor has not accepted responsibility for his actions and may have hurt the chances of real hate crime victims coming forward by not taking responsibility.
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.
A defense attorney for Smollett, Tina Glandian, also asked for a new trial based on legal errors made before and during the trial, but Judge Linn denied the request, saying Smollett received a fair trial.
Following the sentencing, Smollett’s brother, Jojo Smollett, told reporters he was disappointed with the outcome.
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A video from Chicago Police body cameras from the night of the attack showed Smollett still wearing the noose. He testified that he removed the noose afterwards but then placed it back on once the police arrived.
The actor’s sister, Jazz Smollett, called it a “miscarriage of justice.”
Daniel Webb, Special Prosecutor, said he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence, saying Smollett’s “conduct denigrated hate crimes.” and the judge’s remarks showed “he clearly understood what Smollett did was a crime that deserved severe punishment.”
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