Jussie Smollett charged with a felony for allegedly filing a false police report

Actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report. (Theo Wargo / Getty Images)

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report.

Chicago police announced late Wednesday that felony criminal charges against Smollett have been approved by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

“Detectives will make contact with [Smollett’s] legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” said Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi Wednesday evening on Twitter.

Smollett’s attorneys stated that they plan to “mount an aggressive defense.”

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” said Smollet’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson in a statement to The Times. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

The charges follow an earlier announcement that Smollett was “officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation … for filing a false police report” and that detectives were presenting evidence to a Cook County grand jury.

Police initially had been investigating the Jan. 29 attack as a possible hate crime. The incident allegedly involved two people approaching the 36-year-old actor and musician while yelling racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett is gay and plays gay musician Jamal Lyon on “Empire.”

But on Saturday, Guglielmi said the trajectory of the investigation had “shifted” due to information received from two brothers who were arrested and released without charges last week. He did not elaborate on what that meant.

The brothers were identified as persons of interest in the investigation after being seen in surveillance footage around the area where the alleged attack took place.

One of the brothers was revealed to be a personal trainer Smollett had hired to ready him for a music video. The pair reportedly claimed that Smollett had hired them to carry out the attack. Smollett’s attorneys have previously disputed that claim and said the actor is “angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.”

On Tuesday, Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case “out of an abundance of caution” in order to “address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.”

According to reports, Foxx had spoken to one of Smollett’s relatives after the alleged attack was reported and “acted as a go-between with Chicago police.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Fox issued a statement of support confirming Smollett would remain a part of “Empire” despite reports that the actor’s scenes in upcoming episodes were being slashed due to the uncertainties surrounding the case, including claims that the attack was a hoax.

Special Election To Replace Jesse Jackson Jr. Will Showcase New Urban Political Landscape

In 2011, as Illinois politicians redrew congressional district maps, they exercised a power grab that was intended to protect those already in office or even gain more seats for Democrats. Officials split some of the state’s growing Latino population between districts already represented by Democrats and those where they hoped to see Republicans lose. An incumbent Democrat like former Chicago-area Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. was supposed to have little problem holding a seat that for three decades has been held by an African-American. But in 2011, no one knew then that Jackson would spend a portion his term in seclusion trying to manage a mental illness. And no one knew that, after winning reelection earlier this month, Jackson would resign amid allegations of misappropriated campaign funds. Now, with Jackson out and Illinois set to stage a special election in February, Jackson’s former district could end up being represented by a white Democrat from Chicago’s suburbs. And for the crowded field of mostly black candidates that have expressed interest in Jackson’s old job, winning support of Latino voters and at least a smattering of white voters may be the key to victory. “Ironically, because of redistricting, what has long been a seat held by a black politician is going to require a black candidate that can bring together a kind of Barack Obama pan-ethnic coalition just to maintain the status quo,” said Laura Washington, a political consultant and former political science professor at De Paul University. CONTINUE READING…