Jussie Smollett is facing serious prison time after a Chicago grand jury returned a 16 count indictment against the disgraced actor for filing a false report of a hate crime and making other false statements to police.
The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, according to CBS Chicago.
The grand jury was not convinced that Smollett, 36, was ambushed and assaulted by 2 white supremacists outside his Chicago condo on Jan. 29.
The former Empire star told police 2 men assaulted him, poured bleach on him and yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
“Jussie Smollett knew that at the time … there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed,” according to the indictment.
The indictment focuses on the series of false statements Smollett made to 2 Chicago police officers in the early morning hours of Jan. 29.
Each count covers separate false statements made by Smollett to police officers.
Smollett, who is biracial and openly homosexual, claimed the 2 men attacked him around 2 a.m. as he walked home from a Subway restaurant. He said they put a noose around his neck – which escalated the incident to a federal hate crime.
Police said, in reality, Smollett paid two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 to stage the attack against him in the hopes of boosting his salary as an actor on the Fox TV musical Empire.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor instructed the brothers to purchase rope and ski masks from a supply store.
The brothers were also instructed to yell “This is MAGA country”. MAGA is an acronym for President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great again.”
Police said the brothers wore gloves as they punched Smollett, leaving tiny barely visible marks on his face. The brothers were detained but released without charges 3 days later.
Smollett was arrested on Feb, 21 and charged with 1 count of filing a false police report, a felony in Illinois. He was released the next day on $100,000 bond.
He was written out of the final episodes of Empire, which returns off break in April.
Empire is Fox Network’s no. 2 drama.
Update: Smollett’s legal team says they had no knowledge of a grand jury indictment. A statement is forthcoming.