UPDATED 8:59 p.m. ET: Jussie Smollett has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report, the Chicago Tribune reports. If he's found guilty, the actor faces three years in prison.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed the news on Twitter.
Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest. pic.twitter.com/LvBSYE2kVj— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 21, 2019
Smollett's lawyers, in a statement to Deadline, said they will "mount an aggressive defense."
"Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson told Deadline. The lawyers added: "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."
See original story below.
Jussie Smollett has been named as a suspect in a criminal investigation, Chicago Police confirmed Wednesday. The 36-year-old actor is being investigated for filing a false police report in late January, when he told authorities he had been attacked by two masked men in Chicago. The department's spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced detectives are now presenting evidence to a Cook County Grand Jury.
Smollett could face up to three years in prison if convicted of the class 4 felony.
Smollett told police the alleged assault occurred outside at around 2 a.m. outside a sandwich shop. The Empire star claimed the culprits poured a substance on him, tied a rope around his neck, and yelled racial, homophobic slurs. He also said one of the men referenced Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan before fleeing the scene.
In the weeks following Smollett's report, details emerged that raised suspicion about the actor's claims. Two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, were arrested last week in connection with the assault, but were released without any charges.
Shortly before the Chicago Police's announcement, CBS 2 shared a video in which Ola and Abel Osundairo were seen purchasing items allegedly used in the Smollett attack. The brothers, who worked with Smollett on Empire, reportedly told authorities the actor paid them $3,500 to help stage the attack before they traveled to Africa. The video shows Ola and Abel Osundairo buying a red hat and skimasks—items Smollett claims the perpetrators were wearing during the assault.
Smollett's attorneys denied their client was complicit in the alleged assault: "He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack," his lawyers said Saturday. "Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
CNN reports investigators are also trying to obtained Smollett's financial records.