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Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett
Photo Credit: Brian Cassella/Pool/Chicago Tribune

Jussie Smollett Sentenced to 150 Days in Jail For Hate Crime Hoax

Jussie Smollett will spend the next 150 days in Cook County jail after being found guilty of lying to police about an alleged hate crime.

Ex-Empire star Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 30 months felony probation for lying to police about an alleged hate crime in 2019. The sentence will include 150 days in jail, which will take place in Cook County jail and which will start immediately. The sentence comes three months after Smollett was found guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct. When he was sentenced, most thought Smollett wouldn't see jail time.

The Judge, James Linn, also ruled that Smollett will have to pay $120,100 restitution to Chicago in addition to a $25,000 fine. Linn had harsh words for Smollett, calling the actor "profoundly arrogant and selfish and narcissistic." He also said that he did "real damage" to victims of hate crimes. He also added"

"Let me tell you Mr. Smollett, I know that there is nothing that I will do here today that can come close to the damage you've already done to your own life. You've turned your life upside down by your misconduct and shenanigans, you've destroyed your life as you knew it, and there's nothing that any sentencing judge could do to you that can compare to the damage you've already caused yourself."  

Linn also denied the motion to reconsider the sentence while Smollett's team files an appeal. Linn said:

"The wheels of justice turn slowly but sometimes the hammer of justice has to fall and it's falling right now. I'm not staying this." 

After the sentence, Smollett left the courtroom holding a fist before declaring that he's innocent and not suicidal. He also said:

"If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community. Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury. But I did not do this, and I am not suicidal — and if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that. I respect you, your honor, and I respect your decision."

Back in December, It took only nine hours for the jury to reach the verdict on the five counts of disorderly conduct. (The trial took about a week.) Smollett was acquitted on one count — of lying to a detective a couple of weeks after the actor said the attack occurred. The main evidence against Smollet came from the testimony of two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who said that Smollett hired them to fake an attack near his downtown Chicago home in January 2019. The men said Smollett instructed them to rough him up and put a noose around his neck in front of a surveillance camera. The men were said to have been given $3,500 for the fake attack.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb chastised Smollet for the resources it took to investigate the incident, telling the jury:

“Besides being against the law, it is just plain wrong to outright denigrate something as serious as a real hate crime and then make sure it involves words and symbols that have such historical significance in our country."

Smollett always proclaimed his innocence. He testified that there was "no hoax" and that the hate crime really happened. There is evidence of a $3,500 check but Smollett claims that it was money for workout plans. (The brothers were Smollet's personal trainers.) Smollet's attorney Nenye Uche c also claims that the brothers lied and said they wouldn't testify against Smollet for a million dollars. 

“These guys want to make money,” he said. 

Jussie Smollett, best known for his role as Jamal Lyon on Empire, became one of the most talked about people in the country when news of the attack came out in January 2019. (President Donald Trump even had something to say.) When evidence came out that the incident was a hoax, Smollett was cut from the show, with show creator Lee Daniels emphatically saying he would not return. 

This story was updated on March 10th 2022.