Did the Osundairo brothers accept $3,500 for training for staging a fake hate crime? According to the brothers’ attorney, Gloria Schmidt, the brothers accepted the money for training but there was also the promise of a favor. From Fox News:

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference last month that police found the “check that [Smollett] used to pay [two brothers]” to fake the beating, adding he paid them $3,500 “for the two of them in total, and then $500 upon return.”

He said the attack “was staged, the brothers had on gloves during the staged attack where they punched him a little, but as far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on [Smollett’s] face was most likely self-inflicted.”…

As for the Osundairo brothers’ role in the alleged hoax, for which Smollett faces 16 felony counts, Schmidt said, “What they did, and I’ll say have they tremendous regret over their role and their participation in this, but what they did was accept payment for training that also encompassed doing a favor for this person. It’s not an easy narrative to say, ‘Oh, OK, let’s just take $3,500 for this.”

TMZ is spinning this as an admission that Chicago PD got it wrong, but it sounds to me like the story is just a bit more complicated than writing a check and scribbling “fake hate crime” in the memo area.

Gloria Schmidt appeared on multiple shows this morning for interviews. You can watch her interview on Fox here. I think the clearest explanation came during the Good Morning America appearance. Asked by George Stephanopoulos if the check was for training, not to stage the attack, Schmidt replied, “It would be such an easy narrative to just say it that way but it’s, unfortunately, a very complicated relationship for them.” She continued, “If you’re friends and I’m saying ‘Hey, I’m going to pay you for training; I’m also asking you to do me a favor.’…And the favor was to stage the attack.”

It’s slightly more complicated but not that complicated. Smollett was famous and wealthy. He was an important connection for the brothers. Just working for him could have career implications for them. So when he asked for a favor, it was probably very difficult to say no.

In any case, that story is a lot easier to believe than the alternative, i.e. two black brothers born in Chicago decided to stage a racist attack on the one famous person they knew who had been helpful to them in their careers and, miraculously, they weren’t recognized in the process. We’ll have to see what turns up at the trial to see what support the brothers can offer to back up their story. Here’s Gloria Schmidt’s appearance on GMA: