A Chicago jury convicted actor Jussie Smollett on Thursday of staging a fake hate crime against himself.
The “Empire” actor was found guilty on five of the six counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about being attacked by two white supporters of President Trump.
Each of the five counts carries a possible three-year prison sentence but court analysts consider a 15-year term, or any significant time behind bars, to be very unlikely.
In a case that divided the nation on racial and political grounds, Mr. Smollett told Chicago Police Department twice that two White men yelled racist and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck while beating him up and telling him that Chicago was “MAGA country.”
But prosecutors convinced the jury that Smollett hired two Nigerian brothers, with whom he worked as personal trainers, to put a noose around his neck and rough him up in view of a surveillance camera.
In his closing argument Wednesday, special prosecutor Dan Webb told the jury that Smollett caused Chicago police to spend enormous resources investigating what they believe was a fake crime.
“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involved words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country,” Mr. Webb said.
He also accused Smollett of lying to jurors, saying surveillance video from before the alleged attack and that night contradicts key moments of Smollett‘s testimony.
Defense attorney Nenye Uche called the brothers “sophisticated liars” who may have been motivated to attack Mr. Smollett because of homophobia or because they wanted to be hired to work as his security.
• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.