Within days of prosecutors dropping all charges against Jussie Smollett, the city of Chicago may have found a way to make the “Empire” actor pay.
Officials from the city’s law department sent a letter to Smollett’s camp on Thursday, informing the actor and his attorneys that the city requires an “immediate payment” of more than $130,000, the Associated Press reports. That amount covers the overtime hours investigators spent working on the case — work that included “[reviewing] video and physical evidence” and other resources they say “could have been used on other investigations.”
Nearly two months after Smollett first claimed to have been attacked by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs, prosecutors dropped charges against the actor on Tuesday in exchange for the city keeping his $10,000 bond and Smollett completing community service. Smollett had previously been indicted on 16 felony counts related to claims that he filed a false police report, with Chicago police claiming that Smollett hired two brothers he worked with on “Empire” to stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary.
The letter from the city stood by the police’s earlier claims, stating that the police investigation “revealed that [Smollett] knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated [his] own attack” and accusing Smollett of “diverting resources from other investigations and undermining the criminal justice system.”
Officials have ordered Smollett to pay the full amount in seven days, or else the city’s Department of Law may take further legal action against him.
A representative for Smollett’s attorney Patricia Brown Holmes declined to comment on the letter when approached by the Associated Press.
For his part, Smollett has stood by his story. “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” he told reporters soon after the charges against him were dropped.
However, prosecutors, while addressing their decision to drop the charges, emphasized that doing so did not mean that Smollett was innocent or that the police were incorrect.
Tandra Simonton, spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, emphasized that they did not exonerate Smollett, and that the resolution of the case “was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances,” NBC News reports.
Still, the controversial move left law enforcement officials and local politicians outraged. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a press conference Tuesday that Smollett owes the city an apology and stood firmly by his contention that Smollett orchestrated a hoax. Mayor Rahm Emanuel made similar public statements, calling the matter a “whitewash of justice,” according to the outlet.
President Donald Trump also shared his two cents via Twitter.
“FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!” he wrote.
Smollett does not appear to be out of the woods just yet. The FBI is currently investigating a threatening letter Smollett received days before the alleged attack on Jan.29, but federal authorities declined to comment to the Associated Press.
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