CNN — Jussie Smollett, the former “Empire” actor who was convicted last month of staging a fake hate crime, is set to be sentenced on March 10, his attorney Tamara Walker confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.
Smollett was found guilty in December on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for making false reports to police that he was the victim of a hate crime in January 2019. His defense team said it will appeal the verdict.
A hearing for post-trial motions is scheduled for January 27 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, told Chicago Police on a frigid night in January 2019 that two unknown men attacked him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Chicago police investigated the case as a possible hate crime but soon determined the actor orchestrated the incident. They said he paid two brothers he knew from the TV show “Empire” to stage the incident for publicity.
The brothers, Bola and Ola Osundairo, were among seven witnesses for the prosecution at the trial. They testified that Smollett directed them and paid them to stage the attack in an attempt to get media attention.
They said that they fake punched him, poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck and used racist and homophobic slurs — because he told them to.
“Who was in charge of this thing?” Webb asked.
“Jussie was,” Bola Osundairo told the jury.
Smollett testified in his own defense and said he paid the brothers only for training advice and nutritional tips. He cast doubt on their true motivations and said he had a sexual relationship with one of the brothers.
A disorderly conduct charge for a false crime report is a Class 4 felony and punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Cook County Judge James Linn will have discretion in imposing a concurrent or consecutive sentence for each of the five counts.
CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson previously told CNN that the judge could give Smollett probation, but Smollett “exposed himself to jail time” when he testified in court.
“When you testify in a case, the judge now gets a sense of what you said,” Jackson said. “What Jussie Smollett said was resoundingly rejected by that jury. The jury did not buy what he was selling. That’s not lost upon a judge. You came into the courtroom and fabricated.”
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