Beleaguered Empire actor Jussie Smollett may be cleared of charges that he allegedly staged a racist, homophobic attack on himself, but Chicago still wants him to pay back the more than $130,000 it cost to investigate.
The Windy City’s Law Department has filed a civil case in Cook County Circuit Court to compel Smollett, 36, to pay up $130,105.15, to be exact. The suit also calls for him to be responsible for $1,000 for “each false statement he made to the city, in addition to three times the amount of damages that the city sustained, as well as litigation and collection costs, and attorneys’ fees.”
On March 26, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office declined to go forward with a case against the actor. But the City of Chicago, whose police department led the investigation, is taking a different stance.
Smollett’s case is likely not the only one that cost law enforcement in Chicago that amount of money and effort. But the reasons the city wants restitution is because the actor seemingly walked away after pulling what police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel feel was a hoax on the city that took resources away from more serious crimes.
The complaint blasts Smollett and places him squarely as the perpetrator of the chain reaction of events.
“The CPD expended significant resources investigating Defendant’s false report of a high-profile hate crime and physical assault,” it reads. “Over two dozen CPD officers and detectives participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating Defendant’s false statements.
“During the course of CPD’s investigation into Defendant’s false statements,” the document continues. “CPD has incurred 1,836 overtime hours, which resulted in the City paying $130,106.15 in overtime pay as result of Defendant’s false statements.”
The lawsuit charges that Smollett knew his attackers, brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, and conspired to pull off the attack himself, but lied about his role. “Later, when police confronted him with evidence, he still refused to disclose his involvement.”
Emanuel also had harsh words for the actor, who claimed he’d been attacked by two people in January.
“Given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is that when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the words, ‘I’m accountable for the hoax,’ ” Chicago station WLS-TV quoted Emanuel as saying two weeks ago, as the city announced it planned to file a claim.
Emanuel called out Smollett for painting a false picture of Chicago as a place that does not welcome people from all walks of life, according to WLS.
Smollett’s celebrity lawyer, Mark Geragos, said last week after the city threatened to file suit that if the legal action ever took place, he would depose Emanuel and Police Chief Eddie Johnson, and demand the “entire investigation file,” ABC7 reported.
Smollett had been charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about the attack, and police said his motivation was that he wanted a higher salary for his work with Empire. The state’s attorney’s office dropped those charges in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.