Actor Faces Lawsuit for Refusing to Pay for Hate-Crime Probe

Actor Jussie Smollett talks to the media before leaving Cook County court after his charges were dropped on March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO (CN) – Chicago said it will sue “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to recover over $130,000 it spent investigating the alleged hate crime against him that the city maintains was a hoax.

A letter was sent to Smollett’s attorneys last week demanding he pay up within seven days, a deadline he did not meet.

The city made good on its threat to take legal action, announcing Thursday night that it would be drafting a civil complaint under Chicago’s false claims ordinance.

Smollett claims he was attacked by two men in January who yelled racist and homophobic comments at him and put a rope around his neck.

Two brothers connected to the actor were questioned and told investigators they were paid $3,500 to stage the incident.

Smollett was quickly indicted by a grand jury on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for allegedly faking the crime, but Cook County prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges just over two weeks later in exchange for the actor turning over his $10,000 bond.

Although Smollett continues to say the attack was real, city officials beg to differ.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision by the state’s attorney’s office a “whitewash of justice.”

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, also enraged, said Smollett “dragged Chicago’s reputation through the mud.”

Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx has come under fire for the way she handled the case, with the police union even calling for an FBI investigation.

Foxx recused herself from the case after she discussed it with one of Smollett’s family members.

“The Law Department will file the suit in the near future,” the department’s spokesman Bill McCaffrey said after Smollett refused to pay by Thursday. “As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance.”

Smollett’s answer to the city’s demand came in a letter from one of his attorneys, Mark Geragos of Geragos & Geragos.

“Your letter constitutes part of a course of conduct intended to harass and irreparably injure Mr. Smollett,” Geragos said. “Mr. Smollett will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”

Geragos went on to call the city’s forthcoming lawsuit unconstitutional and insistence that the actor faked the crime “defamatory.”

Adding that he “vehemently denies making any false statements,” Geragos said his firm is prepared to defend Smollett in the case.  

His “preference remains, however, that this matter be closed and that he be allowed to move on with his life,” the letter states.

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