Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in an IL courtroom on Thursday to disorderly conduct charges over allegations he staged a hate crime and lied to police.

The actor was arrested February 21, and police said at a media briefing that Smollett had faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his salary for playing Jamal Lyon on "Empire".

Though Smollett appeared in court Thursday, his lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea on the actor's behalf, according to the AP. In the report filed in late January, Smollett told authorities that he had been jumped while walking through downtown Chicago just past midnight. One had appeared with Smollett on "Empire", police and their lawyer said. A lawyer for the brothers, Gloria Schmidt, claims it was for both.

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"As more evidence, such as text messages, phone records, social media records, bank records, surveillance video and the receipt from the purchase of the rope was obtained by investigators, the investigation shifted from a Hate Crime to a Disorderly Conduct investigation [against Smollett]", prosecutors explained in their bond proffer.

Smollett also made a court appearance on Tuesday to attend a hearing on whether cameras would be allowed at his hearing today, which the judge did in fact end up allowing.The actor's legal team said they welcomed cameras as a counter to what they called misinformation being leaked to the media. His attorneys say they want the public to see the evidence, or lack thereof, in the case.

Prosecutors claim Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two brothers with whom he was acquainted, to carry out a racial and homophobic attack, hoping the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary on Empire.

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In an indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox's hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment states. Details in some of those statements were different, the indictment says.

Smollett has denied any involvement in orchestrating an attack. Allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful and if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model.

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