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Chicago Suing Jussie Smollett Over Cost Of Hate Crime Investigation

City officials are seeking $130,000 from the "Empire" star, who they say falsely claimed to have been the victim of a homophobic and racist attack.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Charges Dropped Against Jussie Smollett, Attorneys Claim

Jussie Smollett’s battle with the city of Chicago may be heading to a courtroom soon enough.

Less than a week after threatening to do so, the city of Chicago moved forward with plans to file a civil lawsuit Thursday against the 36-year-old “Empire” actor for $130,106.15, an amount they estimate to be the cost of the investigation into the alleged hate crime he reported in January, CNN reports. In addition to seeking attorney fees and other legal costs, the city is also asking a judge to order Smollett to pay $1,000 for each “false statement” they allege that he made to authorities.

Smollett told authorities that he was attacked early on Jan. 29 by two masked attackers who used racial and homophobic slurs and left a noose around his neck. Police later accused Smollett of hiring two brothers he knew from working on “Empire” to stage the attack because he was displeased with his salary. Officials believe Smollett “purposely misled” police by suggesting that his attackers were white, “when, in fact, (Smollett) knew that his attackers were the Osundairo brothers,” the city wrote in the suit, according to Page Six.

The city previously sent Smollett a letter billing him for $130,106.15, an amount they said covers the hours law enforcement officials spent investigating the alleged attack. They gave him a week to pay up or risk legal action but Smollett refused to do so, with his attorney calling the city’s contention that Smolllett staged the attack “false and defamatory,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

The city of Chicago confirmed shortly after the deadline passed that they were drafting a complaint against Smollett, Deadline reports.

“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019,” a spokesperson for the city told the outlet. “The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett’s L.A. based legal team.”

The city’s law department claimed in the suit that more than two dozen officers and investigators logged 1,836 overtime hours in the course of the Smollett investigation, CNN reports. They are asking for a jury to determine the final amount that Smollett should pay, but the city could ask Smollett for three times its total damages in adherence to a city ordinance, according to the network.

Smollett was indicted on 16 counts related to filing a false police report. He pleaded not guilty, and prosecutors dropped the charges against him last month in exchange for Smollett forfeiting his $10,000 bond and completing community service.

The actor is still under investigation by the FBI, which is reportedly looking into whether he had any hand in sending a threatening letter he received in the mail before the alleged attack, but Smollett has insisted he's innocent.

He addressed reporters shortly after dodging charges, telling them, “I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”