Smollett indicted on 16 felony charges; defiant attorney blames police and ‘media gangbang’

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 21: Empire actor Jussie Smollett leaves Cook County jail after posting bond on February 21, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett has been accused with arranging a homophobic, racist attack against himself in an attempt to raise his profile because he was dissatisfied with his salary. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(FILE PHOTO by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

On Friday a grand jury in Chicago returned a 16-count indictment against embattled Hollywood actor Jussie Smollett for the hate crime hoax he’d allegedly perpetrated.

Each count of providing a “false report of offense” is a class 4 felony punishable by up to four years in prison, meaning the actor faces a total of 64 years behind bars for sending Chicago authorities on an expensive wild goose chase over a hate crime that never actually occurred.

View the full indictment below:

Despite a trove of evidence showing that Smollett had lied when he claimed in late January that two white Trump supporters had assaulted him, poured bleach on him and placed a noose around his neck, all while allegedly yelling racial and homophobic slurs and shouting, “This is MAGA country,” both the actor and his attorney continue to proclaim his innocence.

“I defy anybody to find any indictment anywhere where somebody has brought 16 counts for being a victim of a hate crime,” his attorney Mark Gergagos kvetched on CNN Friday evening.

Except the evidence makes it clear Smollett was the victim of nothing more than his own greed.

“This stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary, so he concocted a story about being attacked,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson revealed at a presser late last month, referring to the actor’s salary for his role on the TV show “Empire.”

Gergagos then aimed his fury at the media, slamming them for finally accurately reporting the actor’s crimes to the public. Never mind that the media spent most of February portraying Smollett as a victim and falsely linking his attacked to President Donald Trump’s alleged racism.

“What is happening here is frankly a media gangbang of this guy of unprecedented proportions,” he said. “I’ve never seen a media pendulum swing more quickly and viciously and rob somebody of their presumption of innocence like this case. It’s startling the way people assume that he’s guilty.”

Listen:

Facts are stubborn things … though Smollett’s attorney did have a point about the “media pendulum swing.” The media initially bought the actor’s claims hook, line and sinker.

Gergagos continued by denying that his client had hired two Nigerian brothers and fellow “Empire” actors to stage the hoax attack on Jan. 31. Never mind the video evidence showing the brothers purchasing the very items that were used in the staged attack. And never mind that both brothers admitted to local authorities that Smollett had paid them to stage the attack.

CNN host Anderson Cooper was unimpressed by Gergagos’ claims.

“But doesn’t it just seem weird to you that you get allegedly attacked by two people who you know and you don’t claim to recognize them, even you claimed you fought back and they ran away, and I believe initially Mr. Smollett said one of them was white, or they were white,” he said.

“Isn’t it just weird that you get allegedly attacked by two people you actually know that have been on Empire that, who you have actually worked out with, and you don’t recognize them?”

Listen to Geragos’ nonsensical response below:

In a statement to People magazine, Geragos took a stab at Chicago authorities as well.

“This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie’s privacy in tampering with his medical records,” he said.

“Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption.”

But local authorities haven’t robbed him of his alleged “innocence.” Thanks to America’s system of due process — one that Smollett had once sought to deny to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh — he’ll have his day in court like any other alleged criminal.

It’s interesting how he’s singing a different tune now that the tables have turned.

“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” his legal counsel said to Fox News. “Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”

Funny how that works …

The good news is that the presumption of innocence exists for all U.S. citizens, regardless of how full of it they may be.

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