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The city of Chicago seems poised to pursue legal action against actor Jussie Smollett one week after it issued a letter threatening to do so if he did not reimburse the city for the costs of what they believe was a fake hate crime orchestrated by the actor himself.
Within days of Chicago prosecutors’ decision to drop charges against Smollett in exchange for the 36-year-old actor completing community service and giving up a $10,000 bond, the city of Chicago’s law department sent Smollett a letter billing him for $130,000, an amount it says is equivalent to the manpower police spent investigating the alleged Jan. 29 hate crime against Smollett. It gave Smollett one week to pay up or else face legal consequences, but that deadline has come and gone, and it seems the the city is now fully prepared to make good on its threat.
Representatives of the city said at the end of the day on Thursday that they are working on 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 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 earlier letter warned Smollett that, by not paying, he’d be violating a city ordinance that would leave him on the hook for a fine of “not less than $500.00 and a maximum of $1,000.00, plus up to three (3) times the amount of damages the city sustains as a result of the violation,” in addition to court costs and attorney fees.
After the city’s letter was made public, Smollett’s legal team issued a response on Thursday, making their plans to demand that mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson take the stand clear, should the city pursue the issue in court, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“In light of their apparent vested interest in the matter, we are confident that Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent Johnson will not object to providing their testimony under oath,” that letter reads, according to the outlet.
Smollett’s preference, however, is that “this matter be closed and that he be allowed to move on with his life,” attorney Mark Geragos wrote.
The “Empire” star initially told police that he was attacked early on the morning of Jan. 29 by two men who used racial and homophobic slurs and left a noose around his neck. The investigation that followed was filled with unexpected developments, including the arrests, and then release of, two brothers who worked with Smollett and who claim that he paid them to stage the attack. Police claimed that Smollett orchestrated the hoax as a publicity stunt, and Smollett was arrested and indicted on 16 counts related to filing a false police report.
Smollett’s drama with the city of Chicago seems to be far from over, however; in addition to the possibility of an impending legal battle, the FBI is reportedly still independently investigating threatening hate mail that the actor received prior to the alleged Jan. 29 attack, in an effort to ascertain whether or not he sent himself those threats.
Smollett has maintained his innocence throughout the ordeal, and did so again after the charges were dropped.
“I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” he said.
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