Chicago Seeking $130,000 from Jussie Smollett for Hate Hoax Investigation

The decision to drop all 16 felony charges against US actor Jussie Smollett who was accused of staging a hoax hate crime attack against himself has revived debate about prosecutorial discretion. GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA  AFP  File  NUCCIO DINUZZO

Police initially treated the incident as a hate crime, but their focus turned to Smollett after the two brothers who were alleged to have been his attackers told police that Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with a promise of an additional $500 later.

Chicago's chief prosecutor, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, has defended her office's decision as proportionate to what she described as relatively minor charges, saying that even if Smollett had been convicted he would likely not have faced prison time. Emanuel said Thursday in an interview with WGN radio.

Foxx recused herself before Smollett was charged because she had discussed the case with a Smollett family member. He alleged that they shouted racist and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.

It seems so. Fox Entertainment, which produces Empire said: "Jussie Smollett has always maintained his innocence and we are gratified that all charges against him have been dismissed".

After the city delivered a letter to Smollett's legal team seeking $130,000 from the actor, Smollett's lawyers demanded an apology from Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson for "dragging an innocent man's character through the mud". The case was handed to First Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats.

'The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollet's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago.

Empire actor Jussie Smollett appears in court with his
attorney Tina Glandian, who says no deal was made for the dismissal of felony charges against him. POOL  AFP  File  E. Jason Wambsgans
Jussie Smollett case: Legal expert explains why charges were dropped, what's next and more

Email and text messages that Foxx's office provided to the Chicago Sun-Times show Tchen contacted Foxx to set up a telephone conversation with the Smollett relative.

Text messages have shown that Foxx had tried to get the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take over the probe of Smollett's hate-crime claims, following her introduction to a relative of the actor by former first lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff, according to reports. The contacts were cited by Foxx in recusing herself from the case on February 13, well before Smollett was charged.

However, prosecutors in Cook County, Illinois on Tuesday dropped all charges against the actor following a surprise court hearing.

An attorney for Smollett late Wednesday blasted Chicago officials, saying they have "continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped".

Meanwhile, Smollett's lawyer, Tina Glandian, said she is "not at all" concerned about an investigation of Smollett by the Department of Justice and FBI in an appearance on NBC's Today show Thursday. The actor told reporters Tuesday that he had "been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one".

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