Empire actor Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for assault claim
American actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony counts of falsely reporting to police that he was assaulted by two masked men shouting racist and homophobic slurs.
The Empire actor, 36, is accused of hiring thugs to beat him up to stage a race hate crime in a desperate bid to boost his career.
On Friday, the case went in front of a grand jury in Chicago and they added 15 additional counts to the one charge he was already facing.
He now faces a maximum sentence of three years behind bars, Sh2.5 million fine and 60 years’ probation.
The actor, who played Jamal in Empire, hit headlines when he previously alleged he was the victim of a racially motivated and homophobic attack in which two men beat him and looped a noose around his neck.
Last month he was kicked out of the hit show after he was written out following his sensational arrest.
20th Century Fox TV released a statement on Twitter saying the past few weeks had been “incredibly emotional” for the team.
They called allegations that Smollett had falsely claimed he was the victim of a hate crime “disturbing”.
The TV executives revealed that they have taken the decision to remove his character from the final two episodes of the fifth season, which is currently airing.
Jussie said he had been attacked by two masked men in downtown Chicago on January 29, telling police his attackers shouted racist and homophobic abuse and tied a noose around his neck.
However, Chicago police allege that the attack was a hoax orchestrated by the actor as he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Fox network drama Empire.
They claim he hired two brothers, who are black, to help stage a “phony attack” on him last month, but that his plan was thwarted because the surveillance camera was not faced in the right direction to capture the beating.