Smol­lett pleads not guilty to re­stored charges

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Don Babwin

CHICAGO >> For­mer “Em­pire” ac­tor Jussie Smol­lett pleaded not guilty Mon­day to re­stored charges that ac­cuse him of stag­ing a racist, ho­mo­pho­bic at­tack against him­self last year in Chicago and falsely re­port­ing to po­lice that the phony at­tack was real.

His lawyer, Tina Glan­dian, en­tered the not guilty pleas on his be­half to six counts of felony dis­or­derly con­duct. She also told Judge James B. Linn that she has asked the Illi­nois Supreme Court to halt the case.

A somber look­ing Smol­lett, 37, en­tered the Cook County court­house wear­ing sun­glasses and sport­ing a beard, flanked by his le­gal team and sur­rounded by re­porters.

“He’s ob­vi­ously frus­trated to be dragged through this process again,” Glan­dian told re­porters af­ter the hear­ing.

She called the re­vived pros­e­cu­tion “an or­deal” for Smol­lett and said he has the sup­port of rel­a­tives, some of whom flew out from Cal­i­for­nia to be with him.

“He’s strong, he’s re­silient, he’ll get through this, but he’s frus­trated,” she added.

Smol­lett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of the charge in the same court­house last year, just weeks be­fore the Cook County State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx’s of­fice abruptly an­nounced it was dis­miss­ing the case, an­ger­ing po­lice and City Hall.

Smol­lett’s at­tor­neys also have filed a mo­tion in Cook County court ar­gu­ing that the re­fil­ing of charges vi­o­lated pro­tec­tions against be­ing charged twice for the same crime, known as dou­ble jeop­ardy. Pros­e­cu­tors have said dou­ble jeop­ardy does not ap­ply be­cause Smol­lett was not pros­e­cuted last year.

Linn on Mon­day set a $20,000 per­sonal re­cog­ni­zance bond, which means Smol­lett does not have to pay any of it. He was not taken into cus­tody. His next court date is March 18.

Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tor Dan Webb, a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney who was ap­pointed to ex­am­ine the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice’s han­dling of the case, rep­re­sented the state. Foxx’s of­fice is not in­volved in the new case against Smol­lett.

The Chicago Sun-Times re­ported that the de­fense mo­tion filed with Illi­nois’ high court ar­gues that the ap­point­ment of the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor was legally flawed. Smol­lett has re­peat­edly de­nied po­lice al­le­ga­tions that he staged the at­tack to get at­ten­tion and fur­ther his ca­reer.

Smol­lett, who is black and gay, told po­lice that two masked men at­tacked him as he was walk­ing home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019. He said they made racist and ho­mo­pho­bic in­sults, beat him and looped a noose around his neck be­fore flee­ing, and that at least one of his at­tack­ers was a white man who told him he was in

“MAGA coun­try,” a ref­er­ence to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign slo­gan, “Make Amer­ica Great Again.”

Weeks later, po­lice al­leged that Smol­lett had paid two black friends to help stage the at­tack be­cause he was un­happy with his salary as an ac­tor on “Em­pire,” a Fox se­ries filmed in Chicago that fol­lows a black fam­ily as they nav­i­gate the ups and downs of the record­ing in­dus­try.

The friends, brothers Abim­bola “Abel” Osundairo and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, were among those who attended Mon­day’s pro­ceed­ings. If Smol­lett’s case makes it to trial, they would be the state’s star wit­nesses. The brothers are body­builders and as­pir­ing ac­tors whom Smol­lett knew from the “Em­pire” set and the gym.


Ac­tor Jussie Smol­lett ap­pears in a court­room in Chicago.

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