Actor Jussie Smollett allegedly paid $3,500 to orchestrate a “bogus” hate crime because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on the Fox series “Empire,” Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a press conference on Thursday morning.
Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He was taken into custody early Thursday morning.
Johnson says that Smollett sent himself a fake letter, which included “racial and political language,” addressed to the studio where “Empire” films. When the letter didn’t receive enough attention, Smollett allegedly paid brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo $3,500 to stage the attack.
“When that didn’t work, he paid $3500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago’s reputation through the mud in the process. The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary [on FOX’s Empire]. He concocted a story about being attacked,” Johnson said.
Smollett currently earns $65,000 per episode.
Police say that the Osundairo brothers punched Smollett with gloves on but the scratches to his face were self-inflicted. Johnson also confirmed that police have the check Smollett gave to the brothers.
Johnson also fired back at the national attention the story received saying, “This publicity stunt was a scar Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”
“Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim who’s in need of support of police and citizens. Chicago hosts one of the largest pride parades in the world. We do not, nor will we ever, tolerate hate in our city, whether that hate is based on sexual orientation, race or anything else. This publicity stunt was a scar Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve. To make things worse, this phony attack received national attention for weeks. Celebs, news commentators, and even presidential candidates weighed in on something choreographed by an actor,” Johnson said.
In the wake of the press conference, President Donald Trump spoke up about the alleged hate crime hoax tweeting, “what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2019
20th Century FOX Television issued a statement post-conference about Smollett’s future with “Empire.”
“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options,” the statement reads.
“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.” – STATEMENT FROM 20TH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION AND FOX ENTERTAINMENT
— 20th Century Fox TV (@20centuryfoxTV) February 21, 2019