Actor Jussie Smollett was slapped with a 16-count indictment on Friday, including numerous felonies, for allegedly filing a false police report after staging a hate crime against himself earlier this year in Chicago.
The indictment was returned by a Cook County grand jury on Friday. Smollett is set to be arraigned on those charges on March 14. Of the charges, making a false police report, a class 4 felony, is considered the most serious. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. The other charges are for disorderly conduct, and for lying to the police in numerous follow-up interviews.
Smollett, who is known for his role on “Empire,” is accused of paying two men to attack him on the streets of Chicago in late January. Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that his alleged assailants, both masked, yelled “MAGA County,” hurled homophobic and racial slurs, beat him up, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck.
Police held a press conference on Feb. 21 to say that Smollett had been taken into custody and was facing charges for allegedly faking his own hate crime, which they said he did because he was upset over a salary dispute.
Lawyers representing Smollett told NBC that they plan to fight the charges.
Cover: "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail following his release, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)