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According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, Chicago prosecutors detailed text messages Smollett had sent in the days leading up to the alleged hoax. The documents state the actor had texted Abel Osundairo on Jan. 25, writing: "Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face-to-face?" The two men, who have worked together on Empire, allegedly met outside Abel's Chicago apartment inside Smollett's car. Authorities say this is when they discussed staging the assault with the help of Abel's brother, Ola.
Prosecutors say the men had originally planned for Ola to pour gasoline on Smollett, place a rope around his neck, and scream "This is MAGA country"—a reference to Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. Smollett allegedly gave the brothers $100 to pay for the items that would be used in the attack. CBS 2 has shared surviellence footage of the Osundairo brothers purchasing a red hat and ski masks at a Chicago store.
Prosecutors say Smollett and the brothers met again on Jan. 27 to find a location where cameras would capture the attack. The following day, Abel and Ola deposited a $3,500 check from Smollett that was backdated to Jan. 23. Variety reports the attack was initially planned to take place on Jan. 28, but was postponed because Smollett's flight from New York to Chicago was delayed.
According to the court documents, the men agreed to carry out the fake attack at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. Authorities say the staged assault lasted about 45 seconds, and was not captured on camera. Smollett left the rope around his neck about 45 minutes until law enforcement arrived. The actor told officers he had been physically attacked by two masked men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him. The incident was being investigated as a possible hate crime.
The Osundairo brothers had left the country later that day for a pre-planned trip to Africa. Prosecutors also say Smollett had contacted the brothers a day after the alleged attack and spoke to Abel for more than eight minutes while he was in Turkey.
Smollett has been released on $100,000 bond. He has been charged with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
Shortly after news of his release was announced, Smollett returned to the set of Empire, Variety reports. The actor also reportedly addressed the cast and crew when he arrived. "I’m sorry I’ve put you all through this and not answered any calls," Smollett said, per TMZ. "I wanted to say I’m sorry and, you know me, I would never do this to any of you, you are my family. I swear to God, I did not do this."
If convicted, the actor faces up to three years in prison.