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Jussie Smollett Faces Felony Charges, Accused of Lying to Police

Jussie Smollett charged

The actor has been indicted by a grand jury for filing a false report to Chicago police regarding an alleged hate crime incident in January.

Actor Jussie Smollett has been charged for filing false reports in connection to an alleged hate-crime incident he reported to Chicago last month.

Cook County State's Attorney's office confirmed felony charges following a day of hearings in front of a grand jury where evidence was presented by Chicago police. The actor now faces a Class 4 felony and could see prison time between 1 to 3 three years if found guilty.

Detectives are negotiating a "reasonable surrender" for Smollet with his lawyers. The actor is expected in court Thursday afternoon in Chicago.

The actor's camp responded to the indictment by highlighting the constant leaks of both true and false information related to the investigation.

"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 that was signed by his lawyers read. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

Before Smollett's status changed in the investigation, the top prosecutor in Chicago recused herself on Tuesday night from any criminal proceedings into the actor's incident without elaborating on the motivation behind stepping aside to such a high-profile case.

State's Attorney Kim Foxx responded hours before charges were approved by her office and explained why she recused herself from the investigations. Foxx says she met with a Smollett family member earlier in the day and worried the meeting could impact any potential prosecution proceedings.

"Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State's Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident," chief communications officer Tandra Simonton told The Advocate.

"Based on those prior conversations and out of an abundance of caution, last week State's Attorney Foxx decided to remove herself from the decision making in this matter and delegated it to her First Assistant Joseph Magats, a 28-year veteran prosecutor."

Magat will now lead the prosecution in the case against Smollett.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service have expanded their investigation into hate mail received by Jussie Smollett to include the actor himself. Two federal officials confirmed this most recent change in the investigation scope with ABC News on Tuesday.

The letter first arrived at Fox Studios in Chicago on January 22 before the now well-known reported incident a week later when two men allegedly attacked the actor while yelling homophobic and racist epithets. The letters portrayed a stick-man being shot by a gun with hate language directed at the actor. Substances were found in the envelope but were confirmed to be powdered Tylenol and an unknown protein substance by detectives.

The federal agency would not comment on this ongoing investigation.

Brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the two men who were picked up and released after giving local police new evidence into the investigation, have told investigators that Smollett paid them to help orchestrate the incident.

They also stated the motive behind the incident was connected to the letters in question not garnering any attention by local or national media once received, according to sources interviewed by ABC News.

During a police raid of the brother's home, a magazine was recovered as evidence by police, according to an inventory sheet reviewed by The Advocate.

Correction: The original report mistated that Smollett had been indicted. He has been charged by prosecutors with a felony.

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