Jussie Smollett sentenced to 150 days in jail for lying to police claiming racist, homophobic attack

Minyvonne Burke
Actor Jussie Smollett leaves court after charges against him were dropped by state prosecutors in Chicago, Illinois, March 26, 2019.
Kamil Krzaczynski | Reuters

Embattled actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 30 months probation on Thursday for falsely reporting to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in 2019.

"You're just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime," Judge James Linn told Smollett while announcing the sentence.

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Smollett responded to the sentence by repeatedly yelling "I am not suicidal!" in court.

The former "Empire" star, 39, was found guilty by a Chicago jury in December on five counts of felony disorderly conduct. He was found not guilty on the sixth charge of aggravated battery.

The charges stemmed from a January 2019 report in which Smollett, who is Black and gay, alleged that he had been brutally assaulted in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood.

The actor said two men punched and kicked him, used racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical in his face and wrapped a noose around his neck.

The police investigation led to the arrests of Olabingo Osundairo and his brother Abimbola, who worked on the set of "Empire."

They were eventually released and Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21, 2019, after authorities accused him of recruiting the brothers to stage the attack.

Police said at the time that Smollett orchestrated the phony incident to advance his career, a claim the actor denies.

Prior to his sentencing, Smollett's legal team had pushed for either a new trial or a not guilty verdict, alleging that his constitutional rights were violated when the court prevented his lawyers from actively participating in the jury selection process.

In court documents, the team wrote that the court "made numerous trial errors leading up to the trial and during the pendency of the trial."

His lawyers argued that they were not allowed to ask questions of the potential jurors, preventing them from discovering any possible biases or "questionable impartiality" toward Smollett given the case being a high-profile one.