BY JANICA STOCKING
On December 9, 2021, following a week-long trial in Chicago, former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was convicted on 5 of 6 counts of felony disorderly conduct. While the trial happened nearly at the end of 2021, the saga began in 2019 when Smollett falsely proclaimed that he was a victim of a race and LGBTQ-related hate crime. He claimed that after purchasing a sandwich at a Chicago Subway, he was attacked by 2 white men who called him all sorts of slurs. Smollett even claimed that they said to him that he was in “MAGA country.” After news of the incident was publicized, the Chicago Police Department invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to investigate. They even went as far as to spend over $130,000 in overtime for police working overtime. After the actor refused to foot the bill for his investigation, the city of Chicago announced it would sue Jussie Smollett to cover the costs of the pricey and public investigation into the alleged hate crime.
However, shortly after this, Smollett’s lies began to unravel. In early 2020, it was revealed that the alleged hate crime was a hoax. The so-called white men who had supposedly committed the hate crime and slurred Jussie Smollett turned out to actually be 2 Nigerian brothers, Abel and Olabinjo Osundairo, who had been disguised and staged the incident at the leadership and request of the so-called victim Smollett. The brothers were originally arrested in relation to the alleged hate crime, but were later released and told Chicago police that they were paid, via check, $3,500 by Jussie Smollett himself to stage the attack. Smollett had a close relationship with the brothers, even having a sexual relationship with Abel Osundairo and doing “cocaine and marijuana” with him.
After learning the truth, Chicago began to build a disorderly conduct case against Smollett. They charged him with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report. The 6 disorderly charges he was brought to court on included telling a police officer he was a hate crime victim, telling an officer he was a battery victim, telling a detective he was a hate crime victim, telling a detective he was a battery victim, and telling another detective that he was a victim of aggravated battery. Smollett was convicted on all but the last charge. Though Jussie Smollett was convicted of a felony, because it is a class 4 (least severely punished) felony, he is unlikely to serve jail time, according to many legal scholars. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 3 years in jail but is more likely to just be put on probation or do community service.