Cops: Jussie Smollett Paid Accomplices by Check

The latest on 'Empire' actor's arrest
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2019 3:52 PM CST
Cops: Jussie Smollett Paid Accomplices by Check
This Feb. 21, 2019 photo released by the Chicago Police Department shows Jussie Smollett.   (Chicago Police Department via AP)

Details continue to trickle out regarding Jussie Smollett's allegedly faked attack, and the latest is a weird one: Police say the Empire actor used a check to pay the two brothers he allegedly hired to pretend to be his attackers, CBS Chicago reports. Police said Ola and Abel Osundairo were paid $3,500, and that Smollett also gave them $100 for supplies and directed them where to buy a noose, hats, and masks. He allegedly instructed them to shout "This is MAGA country," hurl racial and homophobic slurs, and hurt him—but not too much. (Police also said the wounds on Smollett's face were likely self-inflicted; more on that in our earlier story.) More of the latest:

  • Text message: Police say Smollett texted Abel Osundairo to make plans: "Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face," he allegedly wrote on Jan. 25, four days before the alleged attack. Police say when they met up, Smollett explained he hadn't gotten a big enough reaction to a racist letter sent to the Empire set and he wanted to go further.
  • Empire: Smollett's future on the show is not clear. "We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options," Fox officials said in a statement. Sources tell Variety producers are considering whether to suspend Smollett from the show.

  • More career fallout: TNT has pulled an episode of Drop the Mic, a show featuring celebrities competing in rap roast battles, that features Smollett.
  • Smollett's side: At a bail hearing Thursday, Smollett's lawyer said the actor "vehemently denies" the "outrageous allegations," the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "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 5am and wants nothing more than to clear his name." Smollett posted bond and was released after the hearing.
  • Harsh words from Chicago police: "Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said Thursday. "This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve."
  • The attack: Prosecutors say the staged attack lasted 45 seconds, per CNN. Video shows the brothers leaving the scene about a minute later. Police say Smollett specifically pointed out to the brothers the location of a security camera he thought would capture the attack, though it ended up being turned away and didn't record it, the AP reports.
  • The brothers: The alleged accomplices' attorney says the brothers aren't expecting to be hit with charges "because they are not guilty of anything."
(Police say this was Smollett's motive.)

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