Actor Jussie Smollett who starred in the television series “Empire” was given a suspended sentence of 30 months and 150 days in prison by a Chicago court for fabricating a hate crime against himself.
Smollett was also required to pay more than $120,000 in damages and a $25,000 fine.
“I know this decision is disproportionate to the damage you have done yourself to your life,” Judge James Linn said. “You have ruined your own life.”
Smollett’s career collapsed after a fraud incident. He lost his role as singer-songwriter in the final season of “Empire”, a five-year television hip-hop drama that ended in 2020.
Actors who plead not guilty have the right to appeal.
Prosecutors said Smollett, who is black and gay, lied to police when he admitted to being approached by two masked strangers on a dark Chicago street in January 2019. Smollett claimed the assailants wanted to hang him by the neck, spray chemicals on him while shouting racist and homophobic insults and expressions of support. for former President Donald Trump.
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A month later, police arrested Smollett, saying he paid the two brothers $3,500 to engineer the attack to make his name in the entertainment world.
Smollett’s lawyers wanted his sentence replaced by community service, arguing that the actor had been convicted by the criminal justice system and his career had been tarnished. Smollett’s family members also asked that he not be locked behind bars.
“I ask you, judge, not to send him to jail,” said Smollett’s grandmother, Molly, who is 92 years old. “If he’s in jail, take me with him, OK?”
Quoted from Fox19, Smollett’s supporters voiced fears the actor would face risks in prison, especially because of his race, sexual orientation and Jewish blood in his family.
Jussie Smollett’s sentence began with her first night in the Cook County Jail; “I didn’t kill myself,” the actor shouted in response to the verdict
Jussie Smollett’s emotional outburst in court
The 39-year-old fell silent and shocked his family and others in the courtroom when Cook County Judge James Lane delivered the verdict.
“You will serve the first 150 days of your sentence in Cook County Jail, and that day will begin. Right here, now,” said Judge Lane.
In considering sentencing, Lane said that Smollett’s “extreme” plot to commit the crime was an aggravating factor. He also said that the actor had belittled the experience of actual hate crime victims, calling him a “swindler” and a liar.
“You get on the witness stand. You don’t have to. you do it. You certainly deserve that. But you commit perjury hour after hour,” said Lin.
Judge Lin’s full comments on the verdict
While in prison, Smollett also began a 30-month probationary period in addition to being ordered to pay more than $120,000 in damages to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
Then the disgraced representative spoke in court.
The verdict comes three months after Smollett was found guilty of five felony counts of lying to Chicago police.
“I don’t think it will take that long, but the judge made it clear that he saw this crime as more than a simple crime, he saw it harming hate crime victims everywhere,” said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Souffer.
Smollett was still pleading not guilty when he was taken out of court after the verdict was pronounced.
“I’m not guilty!” She says. “I could have said that I was guilty a long time ago!”
Family defends Jussie Smollett’s innocence after sentencing
The verdict angered the Smollett family, who criticized the judge after the verdict was pronounced.
“My brother Josie is innocent, and this should not be a controversial statement because it is the ultimate truth,” said Josie’s sister Jazz Smollett.
“My brother was humiliated,” said Josie Smollett, Josie’s brother. “Talk about his arrogance. He doesn’t know the suffering my brother went through.”