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Actor Jussie Smollett to serve 150 days in Cook County jail for fake hate crime

Jussie Smollett

After more than five hours of arguments and pleas for leniency, Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 30 months of probation including 150 days in jail after he was convicted on five felony counts of faking a hate crime.

Smollett was ordered to pay a $25,000 five and over $120,000 to the city of Chicago to cover the costs of investigating the fake hate crime.

Judge James Linn give Smollett an intense scolding, calling him “arrogant” and narcissistic for planning and executing a crime, and then lying to police about it.

In an outburst, Smollett repeatedly told Cook County Judge James Linn, “I’m not suicidal” and if anything happens to him in jail, it won’t be because he’s suicidal.

The hearing opened Thursday afternoon, March 10 with Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian asking for a new trial and that his guilty conviction be tossed out. Their request was denied. The hearing dragged into late afternoon with both sides arguing over the fate of Smollett, who was dressed in a crisp dark gray suit during the proceedings.

Letters were read asking for leniency on Smollett’s sentence were sent by Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr., NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Black Lives Matter and Actors Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard.

In their letters, the supporters reminded the court that Smollett had a clean background and committed a class 4 offense that did not hurt or kill anyone.

Smollett’s grandmother, Molly Smollett, 92, testified in support of her grandson. Jussie’s older brother Jojo Smollett read a statement that said his sibling suffered enough from the damage caused to his reputation in the past three years.

There were also two witnesses who is support of Smollett, testified that the actor was a generous and kind person who gave to charities and loved youth in underserved communities.

But in his argument, Special Prosecutor Dan Webb did not recommend a specific prison time but said that Smollett committed a serious crime that should not go unpunished. One day before the hearing, the City of Chicago’s Law Department asked the court require Smollett to repay the city over $130,00 in restitution for the cost of investigating the actor’s false claims.

This brings to a close the final chapter in the Jussie Smollett story with this sentence. The “Empire” actor, convicted of faking a hate crime in December.

Smollett was convicted three years after he filed a police report in January 2019, alleging that he had been brutally assaulted in the early morning hours in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on the North Side.

Smollett, who is openly gay, said two men punched him, kicked him, used racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical in his face, and wrapped a noose around his neck. The noose was still around his neck when Chicago police visited his apartment after he reported the attack.

Police also said Smollett refused to turn over his phone and phone records for the investigation. The actor had told police he was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack.

Police have said, however, that Smollett was cooperating with the investigation, and later gave investigators a PDF file with partial phone records.

After police investigated the attack, they arrested brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, but they were released. The brothers testified against Smollett during his trial last December.

Police said Smollett had recruited the brothers to stage an attack to advance his career, a claim the actor denies.

During the trial, Abimbola Osundairo testified that Smollett showed him a photo of a letter he had received at the studio days earlier depicting a gun and a stick figure hanging by a noose. Osundairo said after he was shown the photo, Smollett told him to beat him up.

Abimbola Osundairo then testified that Smollett specifically requested of them that they yell “Empire” and the pro-Trump slogan “MAGA,” as well as scream slurs.

Osundairo told the jury that he agreed to go along with the plan because he felt indebted to Smollett, who got him a stand-in role on “Empire,” the former hit show on the Fox network.

Osundairo also gave a detailed account of how the alleged staged attack played out. He said Smollett drove to the North Side and pulled the car into an alley near the brothers’ apartment, where Olabinjo Osundairo joined them.

A jury believed the brothers and prosecutors; Smollett, 39, was found guilty of five of the six charges against him, including felony disorderly conduct. He was found not guilty of aggravated battery.

However last month, Smollett filed paperwork seeking either a new trial in Chicago or a not guilty verdict. In the 83-page document, Smollett claims his constitutional rights were violated when the court prevented his legal team from actively participating in the jury selection process.

Smollett and his attorneys argued that the court “made numerous trial errors leading up to the trial and during the pendency of the trial.”

His attorneys also claim that they were not allowed to question potential jurors about possible biases or “questionable impartiality” they might have toward Smollett in the high-profile case.

The filings describe one instance where a juror informed the court that several of her family members were either current or former law enforcement. The court did not inquire further into her statements and did not allow Smollett’s attorneys to do so, the document states.

The actor’s defense team also said the evidence presented by prosecutors during the trial was “insufficient and inconsistent so that no reasonable trier of fact could have found Mr. Smollett guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and thus there is evidence that the jury verdict was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.”

“As such, the Defendant now respectfully requests that his convictions be vacated or in the alternative, that the Court grant the Defendant a new trial,” the filing says.

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