Empire actor Jussie Smollett is now a “suspect in a criminal investigation” for allegedly “filing a false police report,” a Chicago Police Department official said Wednesday.
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU
— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
“Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury,” police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said.
The development comes after ABC 7 reported that authorities issued subpoenas to obtain records from Smollett, who police have sought to re-question since interviewing two men said to have been involved in an alleged staged attack on the actor-singer in Chicago on January 29th.
Smollett told police that two masked men hurled racist and anti-gay insults at him, and doused him with an unknown chemical substance as he walked home from a sandwich shop at 2:00 a.m. local time. He also claimed his attackers looped a thin rope around his neck and shouted “This is MAGA country!” before scurrying away. Smollett could recieve up to three years in prison if he is found to have filed a false report with police regarding the attack, according to Illinois State law.
Earlier Wednesday, Chicago’s local CBS affiliate, WBBM Channel 2, obtained video of the two brothers tied to the alleged staged attack buying a red hat and ski masks from a store a day before the purported assault. The store’s surveillance footage appears to show Abel and Ola Osundairo bring the items to the counter for the cashier to ring up. Smollett claimed his attackers wore masks during his assault.
In a statement Wednesday, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment praised Smollett as a “consummate professional on set” and said his character would remain a regular on the series.
Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel tweeted Wednesday that Smollett hired high-powered attorney Mark Geragos and that the actor’s indictment may come in “a matter of hours. Not days.” Geragos recently represented former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his lawsuit against the football league.
Not only is Smollett said to have staged his own attack, but may also be behind a threatening letter sent to himself on the set of Empire. WBBM Channel 2 reported on Tuesday that the he “orchestrated” the assault after the letter failed to evoke a larger reaction from the public. The FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating whether Smollett played a role in the letter’s January 22 delivery. The letter, which possessed powered aspirin and the phrase “Die black fag,” is undergoing analysis at an FBI crime lab, ABC News reported.