Jussie Smollett has been formally charged with submitting a false police report, which could mean felony charges for the Empire star, according to the Wrap.
It all started on January 29 when Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men as part of a racial hate crime. Smollett claims the two men were making statements regarding the slogan “Make America Great Again” when it occurred.
He also claimed a threatening letter had been sent to him shortly before the incident on January 22. The envelope was said to contain white powder.
But investigators stated that “new evidence” was pointing not to a racially charged attack against Smollett, but something much more sinister.
As early as Tuesday, the FBI was looking into whether or not Smollett may have sent the letter to himself, or at the very least facilitated its delivery to the Chicago studio where the actor works, according to ABC News.
Two potential suspects in the case, brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola, were also discovered to have worked on the show Empire and are believed to have been paid by Smollett to stage the attack.
Things are starting to come to a head as Smollett was officially declared by the Chicago Police Department to be a suspect in his own case on Wednesday.
Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi for the Chicago Police Department has stated on Twitter that a lawsuit was being filed against Smollett for filing a false police report.
“Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.”
Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson are fighting the claims, citing fake news as a potential motivator behind the lawsuit.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense,” they said in a statement regarding the felony charges.
20th Century Fox hasn’t responded to the new charges, though they did state on Wednesday that they view Smollett as a “consummate professional” and deny the claims that they are writing him out of Empire.
While the jury is still out on whether Smollett is, in fact, guilty of faking his own assault and orchestrating the whole thing to look like a racial hate crime by Trump supporters, the statements from FBI and Chicago PD regarding his guilt and the supposed mounting evidence to support their conclusion seem to point in that direction.
Only the results of the criminal charges filed against him will determine Smollett’s innocence or guilt in the matter.