Jussie Smollett is facing charges in Chicago… again.
According to ABC News, a grand jury returned a six-count indictment on Tuesday (February 11) accusing the former Empire star of lying to Chicago police about his alleged racist and homophobic attack in January 2019.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb issued a statement announcing the indictment, effectively re-opening the controversial case that led to Jussie getting fired from Empire.
Jussie “planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Dept. officers,” Dan said, per TMZ. Adding that Jussie’s new charges, which were reduced from 16 to 6, were re-filed “in the interest of justice.”
In his statement, Dan was also “critical of the State’s Attorney who dismissed the case,” saying Kim Foxx’s office had no additional evidence from what the Grand Jury had when they indicted Smollett in the first place, so the dismissal made no sense, TMZ reports.
Last January, Jussie claimed he was assaulted by two men wearing ski masks. He said he had just arrived in Chicago from New York and made a late-night run to a Subway when someone yelled: “Aren’t you that f**got ‘Empire’ n**ga?” He then claimed that the two attackers, later identified as the Osundairo brothers, proceeded to jump him, put a rope around his neck and pour bleach on him. Jussie additionally claimed his attackers shouted, “this is MAGA country!”
However, the 37-year-old actor was later accused of staging the hate crime against himself for attention and monetary gain. While he was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for the alleged lie, the actor was cleared of all charges in connection to the case last March.
The controversial decision, which was given with little explanation, upset many police officials. So much so that in August, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney, as a special prosecutor to look into why the charges were dropped, ABC News reports.
Sources told TMZ Jussie still maintains his innocence, and finds the timing of the indictment interesting because Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx is up for re-election next month. He plans to plead not guilty.
Jussie will be arraigned on February 24. He reportedly faces up to 3 years in state prison if convicted.