Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days in prison and 30 months felony probation for falsely reporting that he’d been a victim of a homophobic and racist hate crime in 2019.
Last December, the former Empire actor was found guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct pertaining to a police report he filed on January 29, 2019 – the same day the alleged attack took place.
Smollett’s lawyer Nenye Uche said at the time that he would appeal the conviction, adding that his client was “committed to clearing his name”.
While handing Smollett his sentence in a Chicago court yesterday (March 10), Cook County Judge James Linn said: “Let me tell you, Mr Smollett, that there is nothing I can do here today that will come close to the damage that you have already done to your own life.
“You’ve turned your life upside down by your misconduct and your shenanigans.”
He added: “You took some scabs off some healing wounds, and for one reason: You wanted to make yourself more famous, and for a while it worked. The lights were on you. You were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself.”
Smollett has also been ordered to pay $120,106 (£91,753) in restitution, as well as a $25,000 (£19,137) fine.
Jussie Smollett after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019.
Receiving his sentence, Smollett said: “I am innocent. I could have said I am guilty a long time ago.”
He added: “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 LGBT community. But I did not do this.”Before leaving the court, Smollett repeatedly said “I am not suicidal”, adding: “If anything happens to me in there, I did not do it to myself.”
Last December’s verdict arrived after a week-long trial that saw two brothers, Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, testify that Smollett had recruited them to help him stage an attack in an effort to boost the actor’s publicity, and were paid $3,500 (£2,646).
They further testified that Smollett, who is Black and gay, had instructed them to put a noose around his neck, yell racist and homophobic slurs at him and rough him up in the view of a surveillance camera (via AP).
Smollett denied these claims, reportedly telling the jury “there was no hoax”.
Jussie Smollett. CREDIT: Scott Olson/Getty Images
The actor’s attorneys, however, argued that the brothers’ attack on him was motivated by homophobia. They also claimed that the Osundairos faked the story that the attack was staged, and alleged they attempted to blackmail Smollett by telling him they wouldn’t testify against him if he paid them $1million (£765k) each.
Ahead of the sentencing, legal experts had predicted that Smollett would not go to prison as he did not have an extensive criminal history (via Sky News), and the conviction was for a non-violent and low-level crime.
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