Smollett charged: 'Empire' actor out on bond, staged attack due to salary dissatisfaction: police

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Friday, February 22, 2019
PLAYLIST: Jussie Smollett makes first court appearance, charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report
PLAYLIST: Jussie Smollett makes first court appearance, charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report

CHICAGO -- "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett appeared in court Thursday after surrendering to authorities in the early morning on one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.

The judge set Smollett's bond at $100,000. He posted bond and was released from custody shortly before 4 p.m.

Smollett did not speak as he left the Cook County Jail, and was blocked from the crush of media and cameras by a large bodyguard, whose shoulders he held onto.

Among those with Smollett when he left were his attorneys and what appeared to be a family member, possibly one of his sisters. He got into an SUV that then left, headed southbound on California. He then reported to the "Empire" set at Cinespace Studios in the city's Douglas Park neighborhood.

After posting bond, Jussie Smollett left the Cook County Jail and reported to set for "Empire."

The team also issued a statement Thursday night criticizing the city's handling of the case and saying that Smollett maintains his innocence.

"Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system," Smollett's legal team said in the statement. "The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election. Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing."

Risa Lanier, chief of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, read the bond proffer in full after court, describing details of the crime for the public for the first time.

"He wanted Ola [Osundairo] to place a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him and yell 'This is MAGA country,'" she said.

"Smollett directed the brothers' attention toward a surveillance camera on the corner which he believed would capture the incident," Lanier read from the proffer.

Police said the facial injuries he sustained were likely self-inflicted.

CLICK HERE to read the full bond proffer

WATCH: Risa Lanier reads full bond proffer

Cook County Assistant State's Attorney reads the full bond proffer in the Jussie Smollett case.

Smollett is due back in court March 14, when he will enter his plea.

20th Century Fox and Fox Entertainment released a statement Thursday morning, saying, "We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options."

TNT told ABC News they are pulling an episode of "Drop the Mic" Smollett was a part of.

"We are pulling the episode in the interest of not being exploitative of an incredibly sensitive situation. We are holding on airing his episode for now and we are replacing it with the Raven Simon vs Ron Funches and Joey McIntyre vs Joey Fatone episode," the network said in a statement to ABC News.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor initially faked a letter using racist and homophobic language. When that didn't get attention, Johnson said, Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 via personal check to stage the attack, because he was "dissatisfied with his salary."

"Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?" Johnson wondered.

WATCH: CPD addresses Jussie Smollett charges after actor's surrender

Jussie Smollett charged: CPD says 'Empire' actor staged attack, surrendered without incident (1 of 3)

Johnson said detectives had some questions about Smollett's story from the beginning, but that anyone who reports a hate crime is treated as a victim until the investigation leads elsewhere.

"My concern is that hate crimes will now publicly be met with a level of skepticism that previously didn't happen," Johnson said.

RELATED: Jussie Smollett alleged hoax may cast doubt on real hate crimes, advocates fear

"Absolutely justice would be an apology to this city that he smeared, um, admitting what he did, and then be man enough to offer what he should offer up in terms of all the resources that were put in use," Johnson added.

Police did not pull any resources away from homicides or shootings and the case did not get any special attention, Johnson said.

The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood on Jan. 29. He said two men physically attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical liquid on him and looped a rope around his neck.

Two days after the alleged attack, Chicago police released surveillance images of two people they said they considered persons of interest in the attack.

But the investigation turned on Smollett. He's now accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with the Osundairo brothers, who he knew. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

The letter was sent to the Chicago studio for "Empire" on Jan. 22, a week before Smollett allegedly staged the attack. The letter is currently in the FBI crime lab for analysis, sources said.

RELATED: Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on 'Empire' actor

ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said Smollett could also face federal charges for allegedly sending the letter.

"That was a bombshell from this morning's conference," Soffer said. "He has exposure under federal criminal law for violating a criminal statute that makes it a crime to send a letter, a hoax letter like that. He could serve up to five years in jail."

WATCH: Smollett in custody after disorderly conduct charge

Jussie Smollett surrendered to authorities Thursday morning after he was charged with disorderly conduct.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Smollett surrendered to authorities around 5 a.m. Police received a call from the actor's legal team around midnight, saying Smollett wanted to turn himself in. When police suggested he wait until the morning to avoid spending the night in jail, he agreed.

Smollett was accompanied by one of his attorneys and five or six other people. His lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, were not present at the time. Police said he was quiet, and surrendered without issue.

RELATED: Smollett charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report, prosecutors say

If Smollett is eventually convicted of the charge, he could face up to three years in prison. He could also face substantial fines.

WATCH: Smollett could face prison time if convicted of disorderly conduct

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett could face time in prison if he is convicted of disorderly conduct.

President Donald Trump posted his reaction on Twitter Thursday, tweeting, ".@JussieSmollett - what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA."

Meanwhile, the attorney representing the Osundairo brothers, Gloria Schmidt, said they testified in front of a grand jury for hours Wednesday and said Smollett needs to come clean about what really happened.

"I think that Jussie's conscience is probably not letting him sleep right now, so I think he should unload that conscience and just come out and tell the American people what actually happened," Schmidt said.

RELATED: Brothers tell police that Jussie Smollett paid them to stage attack, sources say

Surveillance cameras led police to two brothers who say they were paid to rough Smollett up. Police were able to track them through ride share records from the night of the incident.

Police said the brothers told them they participated for financial gain and that they were paid $3,500, but they won't be charged. Detectives said the surveillance cameras were key to unlocking this case.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement Thursday saying in part, "Chicago's message to the world is that no matter where you come from, who you love, or how you pray you will always have a home here. Our laws exist to reflect and defend those values, and hate crimes will never be tolerated. A single individual who put their perceived self-interest ahead of these shared principles will never trump Chicago's collective spirit."


'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with a felony and posted bond. So what's next?

Smollett's future is questionable and his reputation is now under attack.

"How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?" Johnson wondered.

While 20th Century Fox said they are "evaluating the situation" and "considering all options," legal experts say his case may not go very far.

"I would be very surprised if this went all the way to trial," Soffer said. "In any criminal case, if you as a defendant are looking at a mountain of evidence and you don't have a viable defense, there's almost no reason to go to trial, cut your losses, you enter a plea deal."

Although Smollett is charged in Cook County, the feds may also have a case against him stemming back to the letter Smollett said he received.

"They are going to piece together all that they can to demonstrate conclusively that he's the one who sent that letter. And they have to make a judgement. And that is, do they prosecute? They don't have to," said Soffer.