Empire actor Jussie Smollett has been sentenced to 30 months of probation which include spending 150 days of jail time, and ordered to pay restitution for his conviction of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he orchestrated himself.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him, and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago street and ran off. The 39-year-old was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago and fined $25,000 by Judge James Linn of Cook county circuit court.
Linn denied a request to suspend Smollett’s sentence and ordered he be placed in custody immediately.
After the sentencing, Smollett removed the face mask he wore throughout the hearing to loudly proclaim his innocence.
He also loudly insisted that he was not suicidal, suggesting that “if anything happens” in jail, he did not take his own life.
“If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community,” Smollett said, standing up at the defense table as his lawyers and sheriff’s deputies surrounded him. “Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this.”
“I am innocent. I could have said I am guilty a long time ago,” Smollett shouted as sheriff’s deputies led him out of the courtroom.
The sentencing could be the final chapter in a criminal case, subject to appeal, that made international headlines when Smollett reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him, and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago street and ran off.
In December the actor was convicted in a trial that included the testimony of two Nigerian brothers who told jurors Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for the ski masks and rope, and instructed them to fashion the rope into a noose.