Former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury once again, the special prosecutor appointed to investigate his case announced Tuesday.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement that a Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Smollett with "making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime."
Webb said his investigation concluded "further prosecution of Jussie Smollett is 'in the interest of justice.'"
The move comes a little more than one year since Smollett first reported he was the victim of a racist and anti-gay attack in Chicago. Police later alleged Smollett staged the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
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Police at the time said Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to carry out the staged attack. Evidence, including text messages and video surveillance, emerged of the brothers communicating with Smollett days before the alleged attack. One of the brothers, fitness trainer Abimbola Osundairo, appeared on Smollett’s show “Empire.”
Smollett was charged on Feb. 20, 2019, with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for filing a false report, but in a surprising move, all charges against him were then dropped by the Cook County State's Attorney's office.
The actor agreed to community service and to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said wiping Smollett’s record was a “just disposition and appropriate resolution” but noted they “did not exonerate” him.
The case raised questions over how Kim Foxx and her office handled the investigation.
Supt. Johnson and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the decision to drop charges. The city has since sued Smollett, demanding more than $130,000 to cover the cost of police overtime incurred during the investigation.
The city is still working to recover the payment, according to the spokesperson for the City Legal Department.
Webb, a prosecutor-turned-star lawyer who is highly respected in legal circles, was appointed by a judge in August to investigate the case in wake of backlash.
When Webb was first appointed, he said he planned to investigate if any persons or offices involved in the case "engaged in any wrongdoing" and "determine if reasonable grounds" existed to prosecute the actor.
On Tuesday, Webb said his office "has obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State's Attorney's office] resolved the case," but noted a determination on whether anyone involved engaged in wrongdoing "has reached no conclusions."
"The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office charged Jussie Smollett with multiple counts, and today the Special Prosecutor did the same," the campaign for Foxx, who is seeking re-election, said in a statement. "What’s questionable here is the James Comey-like timing of that charging decision, just 35 days before an election, which can only be interpreted as the further politicization of the justice system, something voters in the era of Donald Trump should consider offensive."
A year later, multiple legal battles wage on. Smollett has countersued the brothers accused of helping him to stage the attack and the city for defamation. The Osundairo brothers have filed a separate federal lawsuit against Smollett’s lawyers, Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian, for accusing them of attacking Smollett, even after the investigation was complete.
"The Osundairo brothers are aware of the new charges brought against Jussie Smollett today by the grand jury. As stated before, they are fully committed to the public knowing the truth about what occurred on January 29, 2019," an attorney for the brothers said in a statement. "The Osundairo brothers will continue to cooperate with that process and they thank the Special Prosecutor’s office for their tireless work in seeing that justice was administered."
Smollett is expected to appear in court on Feb. 24. for an arraignment on the latest charges against him. His attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.