by Jerry Dunleavy/washingtonexaminer.com
Jussie Smollett, an actor in the television show “Empire,” could face more than a decade in prison if charged with and convicted of staging two alleged hate crime incidents against himself.
Chicago Police announced Wednesday that Smollett is now suspected of filing a false police report about the Jan. 29, 2019 attack that he may have organized against himself with brothers Abimbola ‘Abel’ Osundairo and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo.
Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two masked men who made racist and anti-gay comments, put a rope around his neck, and threw bleach on him. But Chicago detectives are presenting information to a Cook County grand jury that they believe shows he misled investigators.
A spokesman for the police said Wednesday evening that felony criminal charges have been approved for filing a false police report. “Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” the spokesman said.
Under Illinois state law, filing a false police report is a Class 4 felony which carries a sentence of one to three years in prison.
But Smollett and any possible accomplices could also face other local charges related to the possible hoax attack, including:
Making a false 911 call about the staged incident — A friend of Smollett’s allegedly called 911, which, if he knowingly conveyed false information, is also a Class 4 felony in Illinois and could lead to a prison sentence of one to three years.
Obstruction of justice — Smollett could face further charges if he was deemed to be “concealing or disguising physical evidence, planting false evidence, or furnishing false information,” which could mean another one to three years in prison.
Conspiracy — Smollett could plausibly also be charged with this crime if prosecutors believe there was “intent that an offense is committed” along with “agreement with another to the commission of that offense” — an additional Class 4 felony with a prison sentence of one to three years in prison.
In late January, Smollett said he received a racist, threatening letter containing a white powdery substance, later thought to be harmless only after HAZMAT was called to the scene. The two brothers believed to be involved in the alleged staging of the physical assault on Smollett have reportedly told police that the fake attack happened only after this threatening letter didn’t get a “bigger reaction.” This incident is reportedly being investigated by the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service.
If federal authorities determine that the letter was itself an anthrax hoax or mail threat staged by Smollett, he could face further charges from federal prosecutors in addition to those being brought by Cook County, including:
Mailing threatening communications — If federal investigators believe Smollett was involved with mailing himself the threatening letter, then it is possible that he could be charged with mailing threatening communications, which consists of “knowingly so depositing or causing to be delivered … any communication … addressed to any other person and containing any threat to injure the person of the addressee or of another” and can result in imprisonment of up to five years.
Additional federal charges related to hoax threats (up to five years in prison), conspiracy (up to five years in prison), and obstruction of justice (with a variety of penalties) could all also potentially come into play if Smollett is determined to have carried out the mail threat hoax too.