Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days behind bars after being convicted for lying about being the victim of a hate crime.
In December 2021, Smollett was found guilty of staging his own hate crime and making a false police report. The openly gay and black actor and singer was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to investigators in January 2019. Smollet claimed to have been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.
Smollett is sentenced to a total of 30 months of felony probation, in which he will be allowed to travel. In addition, he has to fork out $25,000 (over R377 000) for a fine and more than $120,000 (at least R1.8million) in retribution to the city of Chicago.
BACKGROUND: Smollett had told Chicago police that he was accosted by two masked men in January 2019, who assaulted him and spouted racial and homophobic slurs at him. He said the men, who were wearing MAGA hats (Make America Great Again) also poured bleach all over him and put a noose around his neck. His story would soon crumble when police raided the home of two brothers who had worked with Smollett as extras on his television show’s set. Police recovered records indicating the brothers had been paid $3 500 (more than R55 000) by Smollett to beat him up.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT CHALLENGING RULING
The sentence comes just weeks after lawyers for Jussie Smollett announced they would be challenging the court’s guilty verdict.
They are claiming that the court made a number of errors during the trial, which they have described as “a lightning rod for the political divisions plaguing the country.”
According to NBC News, Smollett’s lawyers say they were barred from asking questions to potential jurors, which prevented them from discovering any possible biases ahead of the trial, particularly given the fact that it was highly publicised.
They are also arguing against the merits of the evidence used by the prosecution in the trial.
“As such, the Defendant now respectfully requests that his convictions be vacated or in the alternative, that the Court grant the Defendant a new trial,” the filing says in part.