Jussie Smollett has been freed after posting $10,000 and agreeing to surrender his passport at a bond hearing where he was supported by his family and prosecutors shared more details of his relationship with the two Nigerian brothers he allegedly paid to stage an attack on him in the hoped would boost his profile.
Three of the actor’s five famous siblings, Jazz, Jocqui, and Jake, were pictured arriving at the Cook County Criminal Court before his bond hearing wearing sunglasses. They were later joined by their brother Jojo but their other sister Jurnee and mother Janet were not seen.
They left the court before him, fighting their way through a scrum of photographers to get into a waiting van parked outside.
Smollett’s bail was set at $100,000 – the amount he gets paid for one episode of Empire. He paid 10 percent of it to win back his freedom and will return to court on March 14 to face a felony charge of filing a false police report.
After the hearing, prosecutors gave a detailed description of how he put the hoax together.
Police say he knew Abel Osundairo, the older brother, because he bought ‘designer drugs’ from him. In text messages that predate the hoax attack, he asked Abel for ‘Molly’ – the street name for ecstasy – multiple times.
On January 25, he convinced Abel and his brother Ola to ‘simulate’ an attack on him, giving them specific instructions about which words to use and how to rough him up but not hurt him too severely.
He knew they were going to Nigeria days later and asked them if he could trust them, saying in his initial text message to Abel: ‘Might need your help on the low. You around to meet up and talk face to face?’
Smollett took them to the location where he wanted the attack to happen outside his apartment, according to prosecutors, and even pointed to a surveillance camera he believed would capture it.
The claims came after a blistering press conference during which furious police bosses alleged that he mailed himself a threatening letter then staged a hoax attack because he was unhappy with his $1.8 million Empire salary.
Jocqui (in beige coat), Jake (in black, bottom) and Jazz Smollett (center, top, in fur-trimmed coat) arrive at the Cook County Criminal Court on Thursday to attend their brother Jussie’s bond hearing. There was no sign of the actor’s mother Janet, his other sister Jurnee or his brother Jojo
Jocqui Smollett is shown entering the court and waiting for proceedings to begin. The Smollett family issued a statement when the attack was first reported to condemn hate crimes and stand by Jussie. Jocqui has since accused the media of vilifying his brother in social media posts
Jazz, Jocqui and Jake entered the courthouse without speaking on Thursday. Their other two siblings, Jojo and Jurnee, did not join them
After his bail hearing, the state’s attorney gave a press conference where she described in painstaking detail how the hoax came together.
Jussie Smollett is shown in his mugshot on Thursday morning. The Empire actor handed himself in at 5am on charges of filing a false police report. Police now say he concocted the fake attack because he wanted a raise
On January 25, he texted Abel asking him when he was planning to go to Nigeria, a trip that had been prearranged.
They were familiar with one another because Abel had once filled in as a character on Empire, who was a love interest of Smollett’s character, Jamal Lyon.
Abel replied that he and his brother were leaving on January 29 to which Smollett replied: ‘Might need your help on the low.
‘You around to meet up and talk face to face?’
That afternoon, they met up at the CineSpace studio and Smollett drove Abel home.
During the car ride, he told him about his ‘displeasure’ over 20th Century Fox’s reaction to the letter he allegedly sent himself days earlier.
He said he wanted to stage an attack and suggested that Ola, Abel’s younger brother, get involved.
Once they got to the brothers’ home, they summoned Ola outside and Smollett asked the pair if he could trust them.
Smollett then allegedly laid out what he wanted them to do and gave them a $100 bill to buy ski masks, a red hat, gloves, rope and bleach to use.
‘He stated that he wanted the brothers to catch his attention by calling him an Empire f****t, Empire n****r. He detailed that he wanted Abel to attack him but not to hurt him too badly and give him a chance to fight back.
‘He also included that he wanted Ola to place a rope around his neck, pour gasoline on him, and yell: “This is MAGA country” and “Make America Great Again,”‘ a proffer that was released by the State’s Attorney’s office said.
Police have found surveillance footage of the ride and have phone records which put Smollett in the area of the brothers’ home at the time.
On January 27, he picked the brothers up from their home and drove them to where he wanted the attack to happen in the late morning.
He warned them not to bring their cell phones with them and showed them a surveillance camera on the corner which he believed would capture the incident.
Smollett drove the brothers home and provided them with a $3500 personal check made payable to Abel, which was backdated to January 23, 2019.
He then flew to New York City to take part in a reading of a play.
The attack was scheduled to take place at 10pm on January 28 but was set back several hours by Smollett’s delayed flight from New York to Chicago on the day of the incident.
His flight landed at 12.30am, January 29.
At 12.49am, he called Abel and their conversation lasted three minutes. During this call, he instructed him to carry out the attack at 2am.
Abel then ordered an Uber to pick the pair up at their home and take them to the crime scene.
They took the Uber part of the way but then got out and hopped in a taxi to take them the remainder of the distance.
At 1.22am, they arrived within three blocks of it. At 1.45am, Smollett left his apartment building to go to a Subway and the brothers made their way towards the intended spot.
Smollett, however, was late. They did not cross paths until 2.04am which is when they carried out the attack. At the exact moment it was occurring, a NBC News employee was getting out of her car nearby. She told police later that she did not hear anything suspicious, despite Smollett alleging that the attackers yelled racial slurs.
The attack only lasted 45 seconds and was ‘just outside the view of the desired nearby camera that Smollett had pointed out to the brothers approximately 15 hours earlier.’
The brothers then ran away on foot, heading southbound towards the Chicago River. They then got in a taxi at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Fifteen minutes later, they got out of the cab a few blocks from their house.
Two minutes later, at 2.27am, Smollett’s manager reported it to police and police arrived at Smollett’s apartment at 2.42am, 12 minutes later.
While being interviewed, he not only described the attack but claimed to have received a phone call on January 26 from someone who said ‘hey you little f****’ and hung up. He said the call happened near a camera and that it captured the attack. It was the same camera he pointed out to the brothers in the hope that it would capture their staged ambush.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson abhorred him as a ‘troubled young man’ who has ‘taken advantage of the pain and anger of racism to further his career’ by allegedly lying that he was attacked by racist and homophobic assailants on January 29.
Smollett makes $100,000 per episode on Empire, according to an associate who spoke to DailyMail.com, and there are 18 episodes in the current season which earns him $1.8 million.
He also has a record deal with Columbia Records but, according to police, was ‘dissatisfied’ and wanted to boost his profile.
When police learned that Smollett’s motive was to get more money, it ‘p****d everybody off’, Superintendent Johnson said, adding that Smollett’s repeated ‘lies’ were ‘shameful’ and ‘despicable’.
He called for ‘absolute justice’ which he said amounted to Smollett apologizing and offering to pay for the police resources he wasted.
20th Century Fox, which defended the actor on Wednesday, is now ‘considering its options’ in light of his arrest.
President Trump has also called for Smollett to apologize for making it appear as though he was being targeted by one of his supporters.
Police say they have found phone records which prove Smollett spoke with brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo an hour before the attack, an hour afterwards, and while they were in Nigeria, keeping their heads down, while the case gained global attention.
They also say they have the check that Smollett used to pay them $3,500.
The brothers ‘confessed’ to the ‘entire plot’ once they were in custody on Thursday.
It began on January 22 when Smollett allegedly mailed himself a threatening letter to the Empire studio in Chicago which had ‘MAGA’ written on it and included racist and homophobic slurs.
It read: ‘Smollett Jussie, you will die’ and included a drawing of a stick figure with a gun pointed towards it.
He reported it to the police along with producer Dennis Hammer.
When that did not win him a pay raise from 20th Century Fox, however, he allegedly hired the brothers to attack him at 2am on January 29 in what he then told police was a random, racist and homophobic attack.
The attack did happen but was not caught on camera. According to the brothers, they punched him after meeting at an arranged spot and time then ran away and got into a taxi.
Smollett then went home to his friend, 60-year-old Frank Gatson, who was in the apartment, and told him that he had been jumped by two masked assailants who shouted: ‘Empire f****t n****r’, poured bleach on him, tied a noose around his neck and screamed: ‘This is MAGA country!’
Police say that the actor gave himself the scratches on his face that were visible in a hospital bed selfie he took after reporting it.
The same day, the brothers went to the airport and boarded a flight to Nigeria.
While Smollett received an outpouring of sympathy from politicians, celebrities, and public figures around the world, they laid low but were allegedly in contact with the star.
As the police investigation heated up, officers honed in on them by tracking taxis that were in the area at around the time of the incident.
In particular, a ride-share the brothers took to the location gave police their details.
They were then picked up when they returned to Chicago on February 13.
Once in custody, they told police that Smollett had hired them and said it was because he wanted a higher salary.
He paid them a reported $3,500 to carry out the attack, they said, and promised them $500 more when they returned from their trip.
Smollett is in custody awaiting his first court appearance on felony charges of filing a false police report. He will appear before a judge at 1.30pm.
His lawyers issued a statement on Wednesday to protest his innocence and condemn the police for leaking so many details of the investigation.
During the press conference, Superintendent Johnson revealed Smollett went from being treated as the victim in the case to a suspect when the brothers ‘confessed’ the ‘entire plot’ in the final hour of a 48 hour hold.
That is when they, in their lawyer’s words, ‘manned up’ and revealed that they had been hired to carry out the attack by the actor himself.
Smollett actually furthered the investigation along by going on Good Morning America and confirming that the two people in a grainy surveillance footage still were the men who attacked him.
He was unaware when he made the remark that Chicago PD had identified those men as the Osundairo brothers and that they had them in custody.
‘I come to you today not only as the Superintendent of Chicago Police Department but as a black man who has spent his entire life living in the city of Chicago.
‘I know the racial divide. I know how hard it has been for our city and our nation to come together.
‘Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.
‘I’m left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone, especially an African American man, use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?
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SOURCE: Daily Mail – Jennifer Smith