(CHICAGO) — Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in county jail on Thursday for fabricating a 2019 hate crime attack on himself.
Smollett was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago, fined $25,000 and must serve 30 months of felony probation.
As Cook County Judge James Linn was imposing a sentence, Smollett screamed out, “I am not suicidal. I am innocent.”
The judge ordered Smollett to be taken to jail immediately.
Smollett’s courtroom outburst came after he declined an opportunity to speak on the advice of his attorneys, who said he has to consider appellate issues.
“I respect you and the jury, but I did not do this. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself,” he continued. He left court with his fist raised in the air.
During sentencing, Linn repeatedly called Smollett, “narcissistic, selfish and arrogant.”
The judge cited several aggravating factors in deciding the sentence, including Smollett’s testimony in his own defense.
“This can only be described as pure perjury,” Linn told Smollett.
He also said Smollett’s crimes were “premeditated to the extreme,” another aggravating factor.
The judge said he believes Smollett has harmed real hate crime victims, who may now be apprehensive about coming forward.
Linn noted Smollet’s volunteer work in civil rights and LGBTQ issues, but added, “You’re just a charlatan pretending to be the victim of a hate crime.”
Smollett, 39, appeared in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago to hear his fate after a jury convicted him in December on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct stemming from him filing a false police report and lying to police, who spent more than $130,000 investigating his allegations.
Prior to the sentencing, Linn denied Smollett’s motion for a new trial following a lengthy hearing.
“We’ve talked about this for two years,” Linn said. “I do believe that at the end of the day, Mr. Smollett received a fair trial.”
Smollett’s lawyers said they will appeal.
During Sollett’s trial, the actor testified in his own defense, maintaining his story that he was assaulted on the street by two masked men, who put a noose around his neck and shouted homophobic slurs and the words “MAGA country” in an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump’s motto “Make America Great Again.”
“There was no hoax,” Smollett testified.
The openly gay actor told police that on Jan. 29, 2019, he was walking on a street near his Chicago apartment around 2 a.m. when he was set upon by two men. The attackers allegedly shouted racist and homophobic slurs before hitting him, pouring “an unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapping a rope around his neck.
Chicago police said Smollett’s story of being the victim of an attack began to unravel when investigators tracked down two men, brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who they said were seen in a security video near where Smollett claimed he was assaulted and around the same time it supposedly occurred.
The Osundairo brothers testified during Smollett’s trial that the actor paid them $3,500 to help him orchestrate and stage the crime.
In a stunning move, Cook County District Attorney Kim Foxx’s office initially dropped all charges against Smollett in March 2019 despite acknowledging Smollett fabricated the street attack on himself in a bizarre attempt to get a pay raise.
Prior to the decision to drop the charges, Foxx recused herself from the Smollett probe after it surfaced that she had been in touch with Smollett’s family. She left the decision on the disposition of the case to Joe Magats, the first assistant state attorney in Cook County.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Smollett forfeited 10% of a $100,000 bond and preemptively completed community service prior to the charges being dropped.
“The criminal conviction of Jussie Smollett by a jury of his peers and today’s sentencing should send a clear message to everyone in the City of Chicago that false claims and allegations will not be tolerated,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. “The city feels vindicated in today’s ruling that he is being held accountable and that we will appropriately receive restitution for his actions.”
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