Authorities in Chicago are asking Jussie Smollett to repay the city for the thousands of dollars spent investigating what police called a hate crime hoax.
Smollett was arrested after authorities said he faked a racist, homophobic attack against himself in downtown Chicago in late January. Prosecutors abruptly dropped the case against the “Empire” actor Tuesday in a widely criticized move that took police by surprise.
The actor had told officers he was confronted in the predawn hours Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, hit him in the face, poured an unknown substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck.
Smollett has denied faking the attack.
Update 2:20 p.m. EDT March 29: An association for Illinois prosecutors slammed Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to drop charges against Smollett, saying in a statement that she and her representatives “have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal.”
Officials with the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association said the decision to drop charges against Smollett was “an affront to prosecutors across the state,” the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
The group, comprised of nearly 1,000 prosecutors across Illinois, disputed claims from Foxx’s office that the dismissal was part of a formal deferred prosecution program, according to the Tribune.
“The manner in which this case was dismissed was abnormal and unfamiliar to those who practice law in criminal courthouses across the state,” the statement said. “Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges alike do not recognize the arrangement Mr. Smollett received.”
President Donald Trump said in a tweet Thursday that the FBI and Justice Department were looking into the case.
Update 4:15 p.m. EDT March 28: A city official says Chicago is seeking $130,000 from Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his reported beating, which police said was staged.
Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city government’s legal department, confirmed the amount Thursday, hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would try to recoup the money it spent on the investigation.
Update 1:55 p.m. EDT March 28: Smollett’s legal team said Thursday that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson owe Smollett an apology in a statement released to WBBM-TV.
“It is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie ... an apology or dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud,” the statement said, according to WBBM-TV. “Jussie has paid enough.”
Prosecutors dropped charges against Smollett in an unexpected court hearing this week. Still, authorities told several news outlets that they did not believe Smollett was innocent of the crimes with which he had been charged.
“Do I think justice was served?” Johnson asked at a news conference Tuesday, after charges against Smollett were dropped. “No.”
Update 11:25 a.m. EDT March 28: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday he plans to try to get Smollett to reimburse the city for the cost of investigating what authorities called a hate crime hoax, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Emanuel said in an interview Thursday with WGN Radio that police continued working to determine how much they spent on the investigation.
“Once they have the finalized (costs) and feel good about the numbers, (city lawyerss) will then send a letter to Jussie Smollett and his attorneys, trying to recoup those costs for the city,” Emanuel told WGN Radio.
The mayor said the money would be “a small way of both acknowledging: one, guilt; two, that we spent these resources and the taxpayers deserve, at minimum — because I think there’s a whole other level of ethical costs, because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent, everything I said from day one is true’ — that actually we’re going to get the resources back.”
Federal authorities are investigating the process that led prosecutors to drop a 16-count indictment against Smollett earlier this week, despite their belief that he was guilty.
Update 7:15 a.m. EDT March 28: President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning about the FBI and Department of Justice review, calling the Smollett case “an embarrassment to our Nation.”
Update 7:50 p.m. EDT March 27: The FBI is reviewing the dismissal of the 16 felony charges against actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly faking an attack on himself, according to WLS-TV, which cited two law enforcement sources.
The review comes as an internal memo from the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who recused herself from the case, was leaked to reporters.
The memo asked for “examples of cases, felony preferable, where we, in exercising our discretion, have entered into verbal agreements with defense attorneys to dismiss charges against an offender if certain conditions were met, such as the payment of restitution, completion of community service, completion of class, etc., but the defendant was not placed in a diversion program.”
The memo goes on to ask for any examples of any cases similar to Smollett’s and specifically says, “Nobody is in trouble.”
Also Wednesday, Foxx defended her office’s decision to drop the charges against Smollett.
"I believe this is a just outcome based on the circumstances," she said, according to WLS, even as the memo was circulating in her office.
She insisted that the practice of dropping charges in exchange for community service and restitution, like in Smollett’s case, is not uncommon.
Update 3:40 p.m. EDT March 26: First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, the prosecutor who took charge of the Smollett case after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself last month, told the Chicago Tribune that charges were dropped against Smollett in exchange for community service and a forfeiture of his $100,000 bond. A judge has sealed the case.
"The bottom line is, we stand behind the investigation, we stand behind the decision to charge him,” Magats told the Tribune. “The fact that (Smollett) feels that we have exonerated him -- we have not. I can’t make it any clearer than that."
Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, told reporters Tuesday’s developments were not the result of a deal.
“There is no deal,” she said. “The state dismissed the charges.”
Update 2:05 p.m. EDT March 26: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson defended the decision to charge Smollett at a news conference Tuesday after a judge agreed to drop charges against the actor.
Emanuel emphasized several times that a grand jury indicted Smollett on felony charges of disorderly conduct in filing a false police report.
“This is a whitewash of justice,” Emanuel said. “It is wrong, full stop.”
Johnson said Smollett’s decision not to have his day in court called his innocence into question.
“Do I think justice was served? No,” he said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, our job as police officers is to present (prosecutors) with evidence.”
Kevin Graham, president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Chicago, said federal investigators could still charge Smollett in connection to a threatening letter that police said he sent to himself.
“I do not agree with what the state’s attorney did,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t think justice was done here today.”
Update 1:40 p.m. EDT March 26: City officials are holding a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss developments in the Smollett case.
Update 12:15 p.m. EDT March 26: Smollett thanked supporters for standing by him and told reporters he’s been “truthful and consistent ... since day one.”
“This has been an incredibly difficult time -- one of the worst of my entire life,” he said. He told reporters outside the courthouse that he felt vindicated by Tuesday’s decision.
“I’d like to thank to State of Illinois for attempting to do what’s right,” he said. “Now I’d like nothing more than to move forward with my life.”
Smollett’s attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, declined to say Tuesday whether the actor planned to take legal action against authorities for his arrest.
“We have nothing to say to the police department except to investigate charges and not to try matters in the press,” she said. “I have no idea what occurred in this case or why it occurred.”
Update 11:55 a.m. EDT March 26: Smollett’s family called the actor “an innocent man whose name and character has been unjustly smeared” in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
“Jussie is a son, a brother, a partner, a champion for human rights and a genuine soul who would never be capable of what he was falsely accused of,” the statement said. “He was the victim of an assault and then falsely blamed for his own attack. The morning of truth has prevailed and he has been vindicated.”
Update 11:45 a.m. EDT March 26: A spokeswoman with the Cook County State Attorney's Office said Tuesday that the agency believes the decision to drop charges against Smollett was just.
"After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," said Tandra Simonton, chief communications officer for the Cook County State's Attorneys' Office.
Update 11:20 a.m. EDT March 26: In a statement released Tuesday, Smollett's attorneys confirmed charges were dropped against the "Empire" actor, who was accused of faking a racist, homophobic attack on himself.
"Today all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him," attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said in the statement. "Jussie was attacked by two people he was unable to identify on January 29th. He was a victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator as a result of false and inappropriate remarks made to the public causing an inappropriate rush to judgment."
Original report: Smollett was caught on camera after he appeared Tuesday morning at the criminal court building in Chicago. According to WFLD, Smollett's legal team planned to make an announcement around 10:45 a.m. local time.
In a media alert obtained by WLS-TV, Anne Kavanagh said Smollett and his attorneys planned to speak to reporters after the court appearance.
Smollett's surprise court appearance came one day after one of his attorneys, Mark Geragos, was identified by The Associated Press as a co-conspirator involved in an alleged Nike extortion plot that led to the arrest Monday of high-profile attorney Michael Avenatti.
Authorities did not name Geragos in court records.
Check back for updates to this developing story.
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