A grand jury in Chicago has indicted Empire actor Jussie Smollett on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men in Chicago who shouted racial and homophobic slurs.
- The actor was charged in late February with one count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report
- Chicago police say Smollett recruited two men to stage the attack because he was upset with his pay on the popular show Empire
- Smollett denies all allegations against him
Smollett received eight counts for what he told a police officer and eight more for what he told a detective.
The 36-year-old actor was charged on February 20 with one count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Neither Smollett’s attorney nor his spokeswoman could immediately be reached for comment on the latest charges.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Smollett, who is African-American and openly gay, told police in late January that he was attacked by two men on his way home from a sandwich shop.
He said they beat him, yelled “this is MAGA country” — a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan — hurled racist and homophobic insults at him and looped a rope around his neck before fleeing.
The US President initially called the alleged attack “horrible” but took to Twitter to condemn Smollett’s “racist and dangerous comments”.
Police say Smollett recruited the two men to stage the attack because he was upset with his pay on the popular hip-hop drama Empire.
According to court documents, Smollett wrote a personal cheque for $US35,000 to two brothers and gave them $US100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps that were used in the supposed attack.
Smollett has denied all allegations.
Fox has already cut Smollett’s character from the show after the actor was arrested and accused of staging a hoax.
His character, Jamal Lyon, will be removed from the final two episodes of the current season, according to Fox, which said it wanted to avoid “further disruption” on the set of the show.
Jussie Smollett’s message to the LGBTQ community after the alleged attack on GMA