I didn’t think he’d end up with jail time but 16 is a lot of felonies. Even if he makes a deal, how do they let him go with no time served after the grand jury threw the book at him?
“16 felony charges against Smollett for his hoaxed hate-crime is exactly the sort of overkill you get from a Chicago Grand Jury when you have messed with the entire city’s sense of civic pride,” says Jeff Blehar. That’s my instinct too. The grand jurors resented the embarrassment he caused by pinning a hate attack on Chicago, felt annoyed at the time and money he wasted by sending investigators on a wild goose chase, and wanted to signal that hoax crimes aren’t a trivial offense.
Jussie’s gonna get a longer sentence than Manafort.
The grand jury’s true bill states that Smollett lied about the attack to two separate police officers–the beat cop who took his initial report and a detective who conducted a follow-up interview the same day.
In one set of charges, the grand jury found that Smollet filed a false police report around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29th in which he told an officer that he was attacked near 341 East Lower North Water Street by two unknown men who were dressed in black and one of whom wore a ski mask. The jury further found that Smollett told the original officer that the attackers called him racial and homophobic slurs and struck him in the face with their hands. The police report connected to these charges also indicate that Smollett claimed that a noose had been placed around his neck and a “chemical” had been poured on him.
The second set of charges returned by the grand jury involves Smollett’s alleged false reporting of the incident to a police detective later the same day. Additional details that Smollett apparently included in the second interview include: the men approached him from behind, Smollett fought back, and all three men fell to the ground where Smollett said he was kicked in the back and felt someone pulling on his neck. During this interview, Smollett also told the officer that one offender was a white male wearing a black mask with an open area around the eyes that exposed the attacker’s skin, the grand jury found.
That’s from CWB Chicago, which notes that Cook County defendants typically plead down to one or two counts. “Experts believe it is likely he will strike a plea deal and potentially not spend time in prison,” notes ABC. Would the D.A. be content with that outcome at this point, though? Why not threaten to take him to trial if he won’t accept jail time?
The answer, I assume, is that it’s always risky to go to court against a celebrity, even a minor celebrity like Smollett who’s alienated many of the people who went to bat for him after he first reported the “assault.” And Smollett’s shameless enough to claim some sort of prejudice against him if the D.A. insisted on trying the case. If you’re willing to invent a hate crime for sympathy, you’re willing to claim that an effort to make an example of a hate hoaxster is just another case of the system doling out extra punishment to a black, gay defendant. It’s not worth the aggravation to the D.A.
Maybe they could make it a condition of his probation that he films a PSA admitting he’s a lying dipsh*t? Run it during commercial breaks on “Empire.” Speaking of which, how much embarrassment do the producers of the show want to endure? Sixteen felony counts might not cost him his freedom but they may cost him his job.