'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

Danny Woods
March 14, 2019

Smollett is charged with lying to Chicago police about the January attack in the city's Streeterville neighborhood. With all the drama surrounding him and his legal situation, there has been talk of the show not continuing further, which has yet to be confirmed.

In case you missed it, the 36-year-old was indicted on 16 counts late last week for "false report of offense" - all class 4 felonies.

According to Deadline, the actor pleaded not guilty in front of the grand jury in Chicago today, shortly after he arrived at court.

Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and California to meet with his lawyers as long as he notifies the court 48 hours ahead of time.

The actor is accused of falsifying a police report, and lying to police.

Police initially arrested the brothers on February 13, after they were recognized from surveillance footage from near the scene of the alleged attack.

Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos called the charges "prosecutorial overkill" in a statement last week.

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They also shared that the two men who allegedly staged the attack with Smollett, Ola and Abel Osundairo (pictured below), are cooperating witnesses, and have since spoken out on the "hoax" via their lawyer.

"Empire" producers chose to remove Smollett's character, Jamal, from the final two episodes of the season.

"As more evidence, such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, the investigation shifted from a Hate Crime to a Disorderly Conduct investigation [against Smollett]", prosecutors explained in their bond proffer.

"The fact of an indictment was not unexpected", the statement read.

Later developments cast doubt on Smollett's account, including the questioning of two suspects - a pair of Nigerian brothers, one of whom worked as a personal trainer on a music video of Smollett's - who were later released without being charged.

"Meanwhile, following the news of his indictment, Chief Communications Officer of the Chicago Police Department Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: ".

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work. Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.

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