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Actor and R&B Singer, Jussie Smollett, Sentenced to Five Months in Prison for Hate Crime Hoax

Cook County Sheriff's Office

More than four years after Jussie Smollett, 39, faked a racist and homophobic attack against himself that polarized the nation, the former "Empire" actor and R&B singer has been sentenced for his crimes.

Thursday, Cook County Judge James Linn called Smollett, arrogant and selfish in a nearly 30-minute speech before sentencing him to five months in jail for lying to Chicago police.

"There's a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness and narcissism that's just disgraceful," Linn 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 addition to the jail time, which was scheduled to begin immediately after sentencing, Smollet was given 30 months of felony probation and ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago. He also was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime.

Following the judgment, a visibly agitated Smollet, removed the mask he had been wearing throughout the proceeding and declared his innocence.
"If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community. Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this," he pleaded to Linn, 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."

The Black and gay actor reported to police in January 2019 that two men wearing ski masks beat him, put a noose around his neck and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago Street before he managed to fight them off. Smollett's attack made international headlines, sparked a debate on racism that reached the White House and was the catalyst for a manhunt in Chicago that cost the city $130,000.

His story began to unravel, however, when brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, revealed to investigators that Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry out the attack, alleging that he was upset that a threatening letter sent to the "Empire" studio had not been taken more seriously.

Both brothers testified in his trial in December 2021. Olabinjo Osundairo said Smollett told him that he'd received hate mail at the TV studio in Chicago "and he had this crazy idea of having two MAGA supporters attack him," a reference to then-President Trump's slogan "Make America Great Again." Osundairo believed the plan was to publicize the attack on social media, not to involve police, he said.

The jury convicted him on five counts of disorderly conduct — for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days after the alleged attack.

As he was being led from the courtroom and taken into custody, Smollett proclaimed his innocence again and raised a fist in the air.

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