Empire actor Jussie Smollett has hired high-powered attorney Mark Geragos amid reports he orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself last month in Chicago. Fox 32 Chicago reporter Rafer Weigel, citing sources at the Chicago Police Department, tweeted Wednesday that an indictment of Smollett may come in “a matter of hours. Not days.”
Top attorney Mark Geragos has joined #JussieSmollett legal team. He is assisting Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson. #CPD sources tell me an indictment of #Smollett could be coming in “a matter of hours. Not days”.
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) February 20, 2019
Geragos recently represented former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his lawsuit against the professional football league.
The report comes as police are seeking to re-question Smollett amid allegations that he staged the attack with the brothers — Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo — who were extras on Empire. According to CBS Chicago’s Charlie De Mar, Smollett directed one of the brothers to purchase the rope which was used in the alleged staged attack at the Crafty Beaver hardware store. De Mar also said Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 and promised an additional $500 later.
Smollett told police that two masked individuals had sprayed him with an unknown chemical substance as they hurled racist and anti-gay insults at him on January 29. The actor also claimed that his attackers had looped a thin rope around his neck and screamed “This is MAGA country!” before darting from the area.
Meanwhile, the Fox Broadcasting Company, the network behind Empire, said in a statement Wednesday that Smollett is a “consulate profession” who will remain a regular on the show.
Not only is Smollett believed to have staged the assault, but may also be behind a threatening letter sent to him on the set of Empire.
Chicago’s local CBS affiliate, WBBM Channel 2, reported Tuesday evening that the actor “orchestrated” the assault after the letter failed to garner an adequate reaction.
FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service officials are currently probing whether he played a role in the letter’s January 22 delivery. The letter, which contained powered aspirin and the phrase “Die black fag,” is undergoing analysis at an FBI crime lab, ABC News reported.
In a statement to ABC News, Smollett’s lawyers said their client was “angered” and “further victimized” by claims that staged his own attack.
“As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” Smollett’s lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”
“One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video,” the statement continued. “It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”