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Jussie Smollett Sentenced Over Hate-Crime Hoax Convictions

Jussie Smollett and Lawyer

The former Empire star was convicted in December of five counts of disorderly conduct related to staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself and lying to police about it. 


Actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 150 days in jail, about $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago, a fine of $25,000, and 30 months probation.

After Cook County Judge James Linn announced the sentence Thursday, Smollett repeated that he was not suicidal and that he was innocent. He said that if anything happened to him while serving his jail sentence, he would not be the one who caused it.

Smollett, 39, was convicted last December of five counts of disorderly conduct. The actor was acquitted on a sixth disorderly conduct charge.

The charges, low-class felonies, were related to Smollett lying to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in Chicago in 2019. He did not make comments during Thursday's hearing.

"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," Linn said before announcing the sentencing. "You turned your life upside down."

Linn said that Smollett, while having a kind side, also had a narcissistic side that was behind his actions faking the hate-crime attack. "I believe that you did damage to real hate crimes," the judge said, explaining that people who report hate crimes committed against them may be concerned about not being believed because of what Smollett did.

At the beginning of the hearing, Smollett's attorneys argued for the judge to overturn the guilty verdicts and grant a new trial. They said Smollett's legal rights were violated from the start of the investigation into the attack.

Linn rejected the defense's request. "I stand by my findings and rulings. I do believe that at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial," he explained.

Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Smollett to "an appropriate amount of prison time."

Among several witnesses who took the stand at Thursday's hearing was Smollett's 92-year-old grandmother. "I ask you, judge, not to send him to prison," Molly Smollett said. At the end of her comments, she added, "If you do, send me along with him, OK?"

In January 2019, Smollett said he had been attacked by two men in a racist and homophobic assault while returning home from a restaurant. He claimed to have been beaten and to have had a substance thrown on him. Smollett also said the assailants spewed racist and homophobic slurs at him while tying a rope around his neck.

Almost a month later, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx charged the actor with filing a false police report. However, the charge was later dropped, and a judge assigned a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, to the case. After Webb's investigation, he said that Smollett would be indicted again on six felony counts of disorderly conduct. He also found that Foxx's office had made false claims as to why it dropped the previous charge.

Following his arrest and the investigations into the hoax, Empire producers wrote Smollett's character out from the show.

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