Update: Last time I reported on this story, evidence suggested that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett allegedly orchestrated his own homophobic and racist attack.
According to Chicago Police, Smollett paid Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo $3,500 to stage an attack on him Jan.29. because he wasn’t pleased with his salary for playing Jamal Lyon on “Empire.”
A grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct and lying to police about being attacked. He appeared in court today in Chicago, where he entered a not guilty plea.
Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the two brothers, told CNN that her clients regret their role in the alleged scheme and the brothers were betrayed. “I believe my clients were betrayed,” Schmidt said on CNN. “You have to look at what kind of relationship they had with Mr. Smollett. He’s a celebrity. This is somebody who is in a position of power over my clients.”
When asked about the role money played in the incident, Schmidt said that the funds could have been for training and the alleged incident. “You have to look at it within the context of, ‘I’m this star, and you’re someone who I can help, and I would like to pay you for something and oh, can you do me this favor.’ So was it for training? Was it not for training? I think it’s a little bit of both,” Schmidt said.
Smollett has maintained his innocence in the case. His attorney, Mark Geragos said the indictment is “prosecutorial overkill.”
“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records,” Geragos said.