- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A special prosecutor on Tuesday indicted former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett on six new charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about a January 2019 hate crime widely believed to be a hoax.

The new charges come after a six-month investigation in Chicago by special prosecutor Dan Webb. Each count of disorderly conduct stems for four allegedly false reports Mr. Smollett gave to police in which he claimed to be the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack.

Mr. Webb said a grand jury investigation revealed that Mr. Smollett “planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred.”

In a statement, Mr. Webb said the “extensive nature” of the four allegedly false police reports and resources expended by the Chicago Police Department warranted further prosecution of Mr. Smollett “in the interest of justice.”

The Cook County State’s Attorney Office charged Mr. Smollett last February on 16 counts of lying to the police, but the charges were dropped after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail and perform 16 hours of community service.

Mr. Smollett did not admit guilt and has insisted he has been truthful.

Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx was widely criticized for her handling of the case, with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling it a “whitewash of justice.”

In response, a Cook County judge appointed Mr. Webb, a former federal prosecutor, to look into the case. He was tasked with probing Ms. Foxx’s handling of the case and whether further charges should be brought against Mr. Smollett.

Mr. Webb said in the statement he reached no conclusions about whether anyone in Ms. Foxx’s office engaged in wrongdoing. His investigation is continuing.

Ms. Foxx is running for reelection.

Tina Glandian, an attorney for Mr. Smollett, said the new indictment “raises serious questions about the integrity” of Mr. Webb’s investigation.

“After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges of Mr. Smollett,” she said in a statement. “Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence.”

“The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics, not justice,” the statement continued.

In January 2019, Mr. Smollett told Chicago police that two men physically attacked him, yelling racial and homophobic slurs. But prosecutors maintain that he faked the attack on himself to further his acting career.

The city of Chicago has sued Mr. Smollett, seeking reimbursement for more than $130,000 in overtime paid to officers investigating his report. His lawyers have countered the city should not be able to recoup investigation costs because it accepted the $10,000 as payment in connection to the dismissal of charges against him.

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