In January 2019, Smollett staged a fake hate crime against himself in Chicago and later made false police reports regarding the incident. In December 2021, Smollett was convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct; he was sentenced in March 2022 to 150 days in county jail.
Jussie Smollett is an American actor and singer. He began his career as a child actor in 1991, acting in films such as The Mighty Ducks (1992) and Rob Reiner's North (1994). In 2015, Smollett portrayed musician Jamal Lyon in the Fox drama series Empire, a role that was hailed as groundbreaking for its positive depiction of a black gay man on television. Smollett has also appeared in Ridley Scott's science fiction film Alien: Covenant (2017) as Ricks and in Marshall (2017) as Langston Hughes.
On January 29, 2019, Smollett told police that he was attacked outside his apartment building by two men in ski masks. He reported they talked to him using racial and homophobic slurs and said, "This is MAGA country", a reference to President Donald Trump
's slogan "Make America Great Again". He claimed they used their hands, feet, and teeth as weapons in the assault. According to a statement released by the Chicago Police Department, the two suspects then "poured an unknown liquid" on Smollett and put a noose around his neck. Smollett said that he fought them off. Smollett was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; not seriously injured, he was released "in good condition" later that morning. The police were called after 2:30 a.m.; when they arrived around 2:40 a.m., Smollett had a "thin, white rope" around his neck. Smollett said that the attack may have been motivated by his criticism of the Trump administration and that he believed that the alleged assault was linked to the threatening letter that was sent to him earlier that month.
On February 20, 2019, Smollett was charged by a grand jury with a class 4 felony for filing a false police report.
The next day, Smollett surrendered himself at the Chicago Police Department's Central Booking station. Shortly thereafter, CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi stated that Smollett "is under arrest and in the custody of detectives".
On March 26, 2019, all charges filed against Smollett were dropped, with Judge Steven Watkins ordering the public court file sealed. First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats said the office reached a deal with Smollett's defense team in which prosecutors dropped the charges upon Smollett performing 16 hours of community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bond.
On April 12, 2019, the city of Chicago filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County against Smollett for the costs, totaling $130,105.15, of overtime authorities expended investigating the hoax. In November 2019, Smollett filed a countersuit against the city of Chicago alleging he was the victim of "mass public ridicule and harm" and arguing he should not be made to reimburse the city for the cost of the investigation.
After the charges were dropped, allegations of favoritism and leniency were made against prosecutor Kim Foxx. In June 2019, Foxx asked the state to conduct an independent inquiry by a special investigator. On February 11, 2020, after further investigation by a special prosecutor was completed, Smollett was indicted again by a Cook County grand jury on six counts of felony disorderly conduct pertaining to making four false police reports. On June 12, 2020, a judge rejected Smollett's claim that his February charge violated the principle of double jeopardy. His trial began in November 2021, and on December 9 Smollett was found guilty of five of the six counts.
On March 10, 2022, he was sentenced to serve 150 days in county jail, to begin immediately, as well as two and a half years on probation. Smollett was also ordered to make restitution to the city of Chicago of just over $120,000 and fined $25,000. After sentencing Smollett repeatedly said, "I am not suicidal". He then continued, "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 LGBTQ community. Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this, 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." His lawyers filed a notice of appeal the following day.