Jussie Smollett facing jail after being indicted on 16 charges


Empire actor Jussie Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct late Thursday.

The grand jury indictment states that Smollett lied about his attack to two separate police officers, one of whom took his initial statement, and one of whom conducted a follow-up interview the next day. Smollett already pleaded not guilty to the first disorderly conduct charge.

Smollett, 36, who is black and openly gay and plays a gay musician on the Fox network hip-hop drama "Empire", was charged last month in a single-count criminal complaint with making a false report to police, defined under IL law as a form of disorderly conduct. But legal experts say indictments like that aren't uncommon in Chicago, and there are some explanations as to how the grand jury could have arrived at the 16 counts, eight of them for Smollett's comments to a police officer and eight others for what he told a detective.

Each charge could carry a potential sentence of probation to three years if convicted.

Smollett, who is black and came out as gay in 2015, even made a tearful appearance on Good Morning America declaring he had been "forever changed" by the alleged incident.

At the February hearing, text messages between Smollett and the Osundairo brothers detailed how the 45-second attack was to be allegedly orchestrated were read in court.

Smollett's attorney, Mark Geragos called the 16-count indictment "prosecutorial overkill".

The "Empire" star was accused of the felony crime after he alleged he was the victim of a homophobic and racist hate attack on 29 January.

Smollett is scheduled to be arraigned on March 14, however, ABC 7 reported that experts believe it is likely he will strike a plea deal and potentially not spend time in prison.

"There was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", the indictment against him says.

Sergeant Rocco Alioto told CNN: "I would like to point out that a lot of the information out there was inaccurate and there were numerous agencies involved in this investigation".

CBS 2's Charlie De Mar has reported Smollett also directed the brothers to buy the noose at a hardware store and the hat and masks at a store in Uptown. After 47 hours in police custody, the pair told police that Smollett has paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, in an effort to raise the actor's profile and win him a higher salary for his role on the TV show.