‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett released from Cook County Jail – Chicago Sun-Times

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been released from jail after posting bond.

Smollett walked out of the Cook County Jail on Thursday about two hours after a hearing in which the judge set his bail at $100,000.

The actor walked out in a group of people and to a waiting SUV. He didn’t speak to the large media contingent waiting outside.

Wearing a black jacket, Smollett stood silent during the roughly 10-minute hearing, looking squarely at prosecutor Risa Lanier as she read from a lengthy account of the proffered evidence.

Smollett’s lawyer asked for the actor to be released on his own recognizance. Judge John Lyke said that would be “totally inappropriate.”

“The state read to me a proffer that, if true, is totally outrageous,” the judge said.

Smollett must also surrender his passport and have no contact with the two brothers who were previously arrested in the case.

Smollett’s lawyer Jack Prior acknowledged the evidence outlined against his client was sensational.

“These are outrageous allegations, but my client vehemently denies all this,” Prior said. “He is not a threat to society, and is not a flight risk. He came back yesterday from out of state, knowing charges were imminent. He surrendered this morning at 5 a.m. and wants nothing more than to clear his name.”

Smollett, 36, was charged Wednesday night with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly making a false police report when he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack at the hands of two men in Streeterville in late January.

Some of Smollett’s family members were in court for his hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

<img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1813795" data-attachment-id="1813795" data-permalink="https://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/jussie-smollett-arrested-in-chicago-for-allegedly-staging-hate-crime-police/smollett-022219-02/" data-orig-file="https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta=""aperture":"4","credit":"Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Jussie Smollett's family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse amongst a gaggle of reporters and photographers after the actor was ordered held on $100,000 bond on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019. " data-image-title="SMOLLETT-022219-02" data-image-description="

Jussie Smollett’s family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse amongst a gaggle of reporters and photographers after the actor was ordered held on $100,000 bond on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

” data-medium-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300″ data-large-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=1024″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1813795 lazyload” data-src=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300″ alt=”Jussie Smollett’s family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse among a gaggle of reporters and photographers” width=”450″ height=”300″ data-srcset=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300 450w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=900&h=600 900w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w” data-sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px”><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1813795" data-attachment-id="1813795" data-permalink="https://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/jussie-smollett-arrested-in-chicago-for-allegedly-staging-hate-crime-police/smollett-022219-02/" data-orig-file="https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,683" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta=""aperture":"4","credit":"Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Jussie Smollett's family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse amongst a gaggle of reporters and photographers after the actor was ordered held on $100,000 bond on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019. " data-image-title="SMOLLETT-022219-02" data-image-description="

Jussie Smollett’s family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse amongst a gaggle of reporters and photographers after the actor was ordered held on $100,000 bond on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report, Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

” data-medium-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300″ data-large-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=1024″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1813795″ src=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300″ alt=”Jussie Smollett’s family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse among a gaggle of reporters and photographers” width=”450″ height=”300″ srcset=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=450&h=300 450w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=900&h=600 900w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/smollett-022219-02.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px”>

Jussie Smollett’s family leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse among a gaggle of reporters and photographers after the actor was ordered held on $100,000 bail on charges of felony disorderly conduct Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson called it a “publicity stunt” by Smollett, who was unhappy with his pay from the hit TV show.

“I know the racial divide that exists here,” Johnson said during a news conference Thursday at police headquarters. “I know how hard it’s been for our city and our nation to come together. I also know the disparities, and I know their history.”

“Why would anyone, especially an African-American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” he added. “How can an individual who’s been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by making these false claims?”

The studio behind the hit television show “Empire” says it is “evaluating the situation” regarding the charges against Smollett and is “considering our options.”

20th Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment issued a statement Thursday saying, “We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options.”

'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett police mugshot'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett police mugshot

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett surrendered to police Thursday. | Chicago Police Department

TIMELINE: Jussie Smollett’s reported attack and its investigation

Johnson said the scheme, “orchestrated” by the actor, was cooked up because Smollett was dissatisfied with his salary on the show. Johnson added that a threatening letter, addressed to Smollett, was also part of the ruse.

“It’s just despicable,” Johnson said. “It makes you wonder what’s going through someone’s mind.”

“When we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” the superintendent added.

Smollett is now the third person arrested in the case. Two brothers — one of whom Smollett knew from “Empire” — were taken into custody last week after they returned from a trip to Nigeria. Before their trip, police say, Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. One of them also served as a personal trainer to Smollett.

While the two were out of the country, investigators learned that they had been in contact with Smollett before and after the reported attack, including when the brothers were in Nigeria.

During interviews with detectives, the two brothers detailed the scheme to police, Johnson said.

Area Central Detectives Cmdr. Edward Wodnicki credited nearby businesses in Streeterville for providing investigators with a host of surveillance footage that allowed police to establish “a really solid timeline” of events.

“We gave Mr. Smollett the benefit of the doubt until the 47th hour of the 48 hours we could hold those two individuals,” Johnson said, because until then, police didn’t have everything they needed to prove it was a hoax.

“When I said he was being treated as a victim, that’s the absolute truth.”

<img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1812844" data-attachment-id="1812844" data-permalink="https://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/jussie-smollett-arrested-in-chicago-for-allegedly-staging-hate-crime-police/empire-cast-member-attack/" data-orig-file="https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,682" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta=""aperture":"2.8","credit":"AP Photos","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. The "Empire" staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Johnson said Thursday. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS309","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"70","iso":"3200","shutter_speed":"0.004","title":"Empire Cast Member Attack","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="Jussie Smollett police news conference" data-image-description="

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. The “Empire” staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Johnson said Thursday. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS309

” data-medium-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300″ data-large-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=1024″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1812844 lazyload” data-src=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300″ alt=”Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.” width=”450″ height=”300″ data-srcset=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300 450w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=900&h=600 900w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w” data-sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px”><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-1812844" data-attachment-id="1812844" data-permalink="https://chicago.suntimes.com/entertainment/jussie-smollett-arrested-in-chicago-for-allegedly-staging-hate-crime-police/empire-cast-member-attack/" data-orig-file="https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,682" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta=""aperture":"2.8","credit":"AP Photos","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. The "Empire" staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Johnson said Thursday. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS309","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"70","iso":"3200","shutter_speed":"0.004","title":"Empire Cast Member Attack","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="Jussie Smollett police news conference" data-image-description="

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. The “Empire” staged a racist and homophobic attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted to promote his career, Johnson said Thursday. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) ORG XMIT: ILCHS309

” data-medium-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300″ data-large-file=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=1024″ class=”size-medium wp-image-1812844″ src=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300″ alt=”Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report.” width=”450″ height=”300″ srcset=”https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=450&h=300 450w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=900&h=600 900w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=150&h=100 150w, https://suntimesmedia.files.wordpress.com/2019/02/empire-cast-member-attack.jpg?w=768&h=512 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px”>

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson speaks during a press conference at police headquarters, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago, after actor Jussie Smollett turned himself in on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report. | Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times

“I want to thank all of the Chicago police officers who have worked on this case, and all of the private citizens and business owners who have stepped forward with information and video evidence to help us get to the bottom of what was reported as a hate crime,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

“All across Chicago, in every neighborhood, there are signs in front yards and in windows that read, “Hate Has No Home Here.” It is a sign that expresses our shared values and defines our great city. . . . Our laws exist to reflect and defend those values, and hate crimes will never be tolerated. A single individual who put their perceived self-interest ahead of these shared principles will never trump Chicago’s collective spirit.”

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement Wednesday evening saying they would fight the charges.

“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,” the statement reads. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

The felony charge follows a tumultuous police investigation that recently turned against Smollett. Initially, the actor, who is black and openly gay, had told police that he was walking in the 300 block of East North Water Street about 2 a.m. Jan. 29 when two men came up to him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, hit him in the face, poured a substance — possibly bleach — on him and put a “thin, light rope” around his neck.

Smollett also told police his attackers had yelled this is “MAGA country” as they tussled with him. “MAGA” is an acronym for the Donald Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

But after two suspects were arrested and released without charges last week, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the information they admitted during two days of police interviews “shifted the trajectory of the investigation” to point to Smollett as a suspect.

Smollett’s charge of disorderly conduct is a Class 4 felony, the lowest felony classification and could result in a prison sentence of up to three years or as little as probation.

On Wednesday, the brothers were both seen exiting the grand jury room at the Leighton Criminal Court Building minutes before the charges against Smollett were approved.

They had decided they needed to set the story straight on what happened that January night, said their lawyer, Gloria Schmidt. She added the brothers received money from Smollett but declined to say the amount or when it changed hands.

“I think Jussie Smollett should come clear, because the truth will set him free,” Schmidt said.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood trade publication Variety reported Thursday night that “Empire” producers were considering whether to suspend Smollett from the show after he was charged. The show’s producers have previously d
enied reports they were writing Smollett’s character off the show.

Trump on Thursday also took to social media to weigh in on the incident.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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