A Chicago grand jury charged actor Jussie Smollett with 16 felony counts for falsely reporting a hate crime. Smollett was charged last month with a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly making up the hate crime. Smollett has insisted he is innocent.
The grand jury returned the indictment on Thursday, CBS Chicago reported.
The 36-year-old actor, who is black and openly gay, plays Jamal Lyon on Fox’s hit TV show, “Empire,” a drama that chronicles a family-run record label. He told police he was attacked by two masked men when he was returning home from a Subway sandwich store Jan. 29 around 2 a.m.
Smollett claimed the two men had beat him, said homophobic and racial slurs and put a noose around his neck before fleeing. He said he heard, “this is MAGA country,” an apparent reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.
Police arrested two brothers who they initially linked to the alleged attack. But police said the brothers then said Smollett had paid them $3,500 to stage the attack.