Empire star Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a Chicago grand jury of 16 felony counts for lying to police about an alleged staged hate crime. At the end of January, Smollett went to police and claimed that he had been attacked by two men who were yelling racial and anti-gay slurs at him. The actor then claimed that one of them put a noose around his neck while the other man threw bleach on his skin. The actor went on to claim that the men were yelling Donald Trump slogans at him. After an investigation, Chicago authorities believe that Smollett staged the whole thing.
Jussie Smollett was charged with a felony for disorderly conduct last month, but was released on a $100,000 bail. Since he was originally only charged with one felony, the addition of 16 more will definitely ramp things up a bit for the actor. As for how the counts got so high, it appears that there are 2 sets of charges: one for Smollett's original police report, and the other charges are for the second interview with authorities. This could lead to some jail time for the actor.
As of now, Jussie Smollett is still on Empire. The producers made the decision to keep him off of the last few episodes of this current season, but he is technically still on the show. However, that could easily change now that Smollett is facing 16 felonies. Chicago authorities believe that the actor staged his attack as a way to get the attention of Empire producers in an effort to get more money for his acting on the show, which the police department did not find to be amusing in the slightest.
When Jussie Smollett first reported the alleged attack, the Chicago PD wasted no time in looking for his attackers and called on extra help to find the suspects. The suspects were quickly found and revealed to be acquaintances of Smollett after a few days. The suspects were later let go without chargers when police learned that the actor reportedly paid the men to attack him. That is when the tables turned for Smollett, who still maintains that he did not coordinate his own racially charged attack.
Jussie Smollett's future is uncertain at this time. While he is still on Empire, that could end at any time. As for jail time, we'll just have to wait and see as the legal process goes through, but for now, it isn't looking good for Smollett, who just achieved the level of fame he was seeking, but for all of the wrong reasons. Chicago police maintain that they had multiple agencies in on the investigation, which all pointed to holes in Smollett's story, including his initial police report and follow up interview with authorities. TMZ was the first to report the latest Jussie Smollett legal trouble news.