“If the amount is not timely paid, the Department of Law may prosecute you for making a false statement to the city”
The City of Chicago will sue Jussie Smollett after the actor, and alleged hate-crime hoaxer, failed to pay the $130,000 the city demanded last week, the Associated Press reported Thursday. The city’s lawsuit could have collateral consequences that might be more damaging to pay than the punitive financial damages he’d have to pay if the suit is successful.
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According to TMZ, the city would need to prove the “Empire” star staged the alleged attack as part of the lawsuit. This would have the effect of putting Smollett on trial before an administrative law judge.
“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29, 2019. The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett’s L.A. based legal team,” a spokesperson for the city told TMZ.
The city is reportedly entitled to up to three times the cost of the investigation – $390,000 – should they prevail in court.
Fox32 reporter Rafer Weigel observed earlier in the day that the “Standards for proving
#Smollett staged” the attack “will be lower than in criminal court.”
#JussieSmollett has until the end of the day to pay the city $130K which @ChicagosMayor says covers the OT of @Chicago_Police investigation into his alleged hoax. If he doesn’t, city is likely to sue. Standards for proving #Smollett staged it will be lower than in criminal court.
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) April 4, 2019
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s law chief Edward N. Siskel sent a letter to Smollett on March 28 demanding he reimburse the city $130,106.15 for the cost of its investigation into the alleged attack on him.
“The City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department take seriously those who make false statements to the police, thereby diverting resources from other investigations and undermining the criminal justice system,” Siskel said in the letter to Smollett.
“Ultimately, the Chicago police investigation revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your attack,” he added.
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“If the amount is not timely paid, the Department of Law may prosecute you for making a false statement to the city,” the letter added.
The actor’s case ignited a firestorm of controversy after prosecutors announced last week that 16 charges of disorderly conduct for making a false statement against him had been dropped. The Chicago Police Department is “furious” about the decision, according to reports.
Smollett, 36, black and gay former star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show, reported to the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
Police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.
In February, Smollett was arrested and charged with staging the crime in an apparent effort to garner attention and sympathy. Fox would cut ties with the actor shortly after, removing him from the final two episodes of the season.
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- Jussie Smollett.: Courtesy of Chicago Police Department