'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty

Smollett was arrested on February 21 after being charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report in which he claimed he was the victim of a hate crime.

Not much later, Chicago police revealed they had evidence pointing to the Hollywood star lying about the attack, accusing him of paying his "attackers", all so he could get more attention and score a bigger salary from Empire.

Smollett's case was assigned to Judge Steven Watkins, who told the actor he must be present and on time for every court date.

Smollett is expected to enter his plea before Watkins after a short recess. "Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption". Far from the racist and homophobic assault Smollett first describes in late January, the texts detailed preparing money to buy supplies, buying drugs, setting up meetings and ensuring that MAGA hats and chants were part of the assault. "We welcome cameras in the courtroom so that members of the media can see the actual evidence - and what we feel is actually going to be a lack of evidence - against Mr. Smollett". The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

"This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records".

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One of Smollett's attorneys, Mark Geragos, responded to the indictment in a statement to ET.

With lawyers and family in the Cook County courthouse, Smollett's attorney, Tina Glandian expectedly plead "not guilty" for the subdued actor to the 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct. They became cooperating witnesses and were released without charges.

Smollett found fame on Fox musical drama Empire, but was removed from the last two episodes of the show's latest season amid the controversy. The judge granted a $100,000 bail, and Smollett paid a $10,000 bond.

In a searing live press conference on that same day, CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said it was "shameful' what Smollett allegedly try to pull off and accused him of perpetuating a "hoax".

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