Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett is once again facing charges stemming from an alleged 2019 hoax, in which a special prosecutor contends Smollett paid two men to stage a hate crime against him in Chicago.
Smollett is facing six indictments, which include disorderly conduct, according to several sources.
Smollett went to police on January 29, 2019, claiming two men hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, punched him, poured bleach on him, hung a noose around his neck, and told him he was in "MAGA Country," a reference to Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. After breathless media coverage — and public comments from the president and numerous presidential candidates — Smollett was arrested in February 2019 for coordinating the attack, with officials saying Smollett paid two acquaintances $3,500 to stage it. Then in March, he was mysteriously cleared of all charges, with then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressing outrage at that decision.
Smollett — who did not return for the final season of Empire — maintains he did not stage the attack.
Then in August, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed a special prosecutor to the case, specifically to see why state prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett. Special prosecutor Dan Webb brought the new charges against the actor, who is expected in court February 24.