Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced on Thursday to five months in jail for lying to the police about his 2019 hate crime hoax, CNN reports.
Smollett, the former star of “Empire,” was sentenced to 150 days in jail followed by 30 months of probation. He was also ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine for making a false report to police.
"Your honor, I respect you and I respect the jury, but I did not do this," Smollett said in court after his sentence was announced. "And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that."
Cook County Judge James Linn spoke for more than 30 minutes before announcing his sentence.
"There's a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness and narcissism that's just disgraceful," the judge said. "You're not a victim of a racial hate crime, you're not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You're just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime, and that's shameful."
Jury found him guilty:
Smollett, 39, was found guilty by a jury on five of six counts of felony disorderly conduct and making false reports to the police.
In January 2019, he falsely claimed that two unknown men in MAGA gear shouted racist and homophobic slurs, attacked him, poured bleach on him, and wrapped a noose around his neck.
Smollett drew support from a wide variety of celebrities and politicians and the Chicago Police investigated it as a hate crime before determining that Smollett paid two brothers he knew from “Empire” to stage the incident for publicity.
Smollett faced up to three years in prison but the judge gave a more lenient sentence, citing his community service.
"You do have quite a record of real community service and quite a record of attaching with people," the judge said. "I'm mindful of pleas of mercy, particularly from people that are in the arena."
Prosecutor speaks out:
Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx, who initially dropped the charges against Smollett before he was indicted by a grand jury, wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times that the justice system “failed” in Smollett’s case by pursuing his prosecution, costing taxpayers “millions.”
She defended her decision to drop the charges, noting that Smollett had already forfeited a $10,000 bond, had never been accused of a violent crime, and paid a “reputational price.”
Because of a “relentless, organized, and effective” mob that criticized her decision, a special prosecutor was assigned and Smollett was "indicted, tried and convicted by a kangaroo prosecution in a matter of months,” she wrote.