Actor Jussie Smollett sentenced to 150 days in jail for lying to police about fake hate crimes | Jussie Smollet
Actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 30 months probation, including 150 days in prison, and ordered to make amends for his conviction for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack he himself orchestrated.
Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago street and fled. The 39-year-old was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the City of Chicago and fined $25,000 by Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Linn.
Linn denied a request to suspend Smollett’s sentence and ordered that he be taken into custody immediately.
After sentencing, Smollett removed the face mask he wore throughout the hearing to loudly proclaim his innocence.
He also insisted loudly that he was not suicidal, suggesting that “if anything happens” in prison, he did not kill himself.
“If I did that, it means I stuck my fist into the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community,” Smollett said, standing at the table in the defense as his attorneys and sheriff deputies surrounded him. “Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I didn’t do this.”
“I’m innocent. I could have said I’m guilty a long time ago,” Smollett shouted as sheriff’s deputies led him out of the courtroom, capping an hour-long sentencing hearing. .
Thursday’s sentencing could be the latest chapter in an appealable criminal case that made international headlines when Smollett reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him and hurled racial and homophobic slurs down a dark Chicago street and fled. .
In December, the actor was convicted in a trial that included testimony from two brothers who told jurors that Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for ski masks and rope, and asked them to shape the rope into a slipknot.
Prosecutors said he told them what racist and homophobic slurs to shout, and yelling that Smollett was in “Maga Country,” a reference to the campaign slogan of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the television show Empire which filmed in Chicago, testified that he did not recognize them and did not know they were the men attacking him.
Linn excoriated Smollett before issuing his sentencing decision and said he was stunned by Smollett’s actions given the actor’s multiracial family background and his history of working for social justice organizations.
“To have you now sitting here convicted of hoaxing, of hate crimes… the hypocrisy is just astounding,” Linn said.
Before Linn handed down the sentence, Smollett’s defense attorney, Nenye Uche, asked Linn to limit the sentence to community service. He said Smollett “lost almost everything” in his career and finances and asked Linn to give him time to make restitution if it was part of the sentence.
State and Smollett witnesses testified during Smollett’s sentencing at the Cook County Courthouse. Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown, who was called by the state, submitted a statement which was read aloud by Special Prosecutions Team member Samuel Mendenhall.
In the statement, Brown, who became superintendent in April 2020 and was not with the city at the time of Smollett’s police report, said Smollett’s false hate crime report harmed “real victims.” of these crimes. Brown asked that the city be compensated for his costs, saying the cost of investigating his claim could have been spent elsewhere in the city.
Jussie Smollett’s grandmother, testifying for the defense, asked Linn not to include the prison sentence in her sentence for Smollett.
“I’m asking you, judge, not to send him to jail,” Molly Smollett, 92, told the court. She then added, “If you do, send me with him, okay?”
Smollett’s brother, Joel Smollett, Jr, told the court that Smollett was “no threat to the people of Illinois. In my humble opinion, he is completely innocent.
Smollett’s lawyers also read aloud letters from other supporters, including a Black Lives Matter organizer, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and LaTanya and Samuel L Jackson who asked Linn to consider the effect of the case. on Smollett’s life and career and to avoid any confinement within the scope of his sentence.
Other supporters have raised concerns that Smollett is in danger in prison, specifically mentioning his race, sexual orientation and his family’s Jewish heritage.
Smollett declined to make a statement during the hearing. His decision came after special prosecutor Dan Webb asked Linn to include “an appropriate prison term” when sentencing the actor for his conviction.
Before sentencing began, Linn denied a defense motion to overturn the jury’s verdict on legal grounds. Judges rarely grant such requests.
Smollett faces up to three years in prison for each of the five disorderly conduct charges – the charge filed for lying to police – of which he was convicted. He was acquitted on a sixth count.
But because Smollett does not have an extensive criminal history and the conviction is for a low-level, non-violent crime, experts did not expect him to be sent to prison.