A media frenzy followed actor Jussie Smollett from a Chicago court on Thursday, after a judge set bail at $100,000… and ordered him to surrender his passport.
He faces one felony count of filing a false police report.
Police say the openly-gay actor paid two brothers thousands of dollars to beat him up in a staged racist and homophobic attack… alleging the perpetrators put a noose around his neck.
Prosecutor Risa Lanier gave details: (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROSECUTOR RISA LANIER, SAYING: “Smollett stated that he wanted them to appear to attack him on the evening of January 28th ...Defendant Smollett also included that he wanted Ola to place a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him, and yell 'This is MAGA country'.
Prior to the brothers' getting out of Smollett's car, Smollett provided Abel with a $100 bill to purchase the rope, gasoline, ski masks, gloves, and the red baseball caps which resemble the ones that say 'Make America Great Again’." All of this, police say, because Smollett was unhappy with his salary on the hip-hop TV drama ‘Empire'.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SUPERINTENDENT OF CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT EDDIE T.
JOHNSON, SAYING: "This announcement today recognizes that Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
I'm left hanging my head and asking why.
Why would anyone especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations.” He first tried getting attention, according to police, by sending a racist letter to himself and when that didn't work, they say, he paid two brothers $3500 to stage the attack.
Police interviewed more than 100 people, reviewed video from more than 55 surveillance cameras and executed more than 50 search warrants during the investigation.
If Smollett is convicted of lying to police, he could face a prison sentence of one to three years.