‘Empire’ Actor Faces Deadline to Pay for Hate-Crime Probe

In this March 26, 2019, file photo, actor Jussie Smollett smiles and waves to supporters before leaving Cook County court after his charges were dropped. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

CHICAGO (CN) – As a seven-day deadline comes to a close Thursday, Chicago has not yet received the $130,000 it demanded from “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to cover the cost to investigate the alleged hate crime against him that city officials say he staged.

A demand letter was sent to one of Smollett’s attorneys, Patricia Brown Holmes, a week ago, just two days after Cook County prosecutors abruptly dropped all criminal charges against him.

Both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson were appalled by the dropped charges, with Emanuel calling the decision a “whitewash of justice.”

City officials maintain that Smollett staged an attack against himself, in which he claims two men yelled homophobic and racist comments at him and put a rope around his neck.

Two brothers told investigators the actor paid them $3,500 to participate in the hoax.

Smollett, on the other hand, continues to declare his innocence.

The letter from the city says that “the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department take seriously those who make false statements to the police, thereby diverting resources from other investigations and undermining the criminal justice system,” threatening to sue Smollett if he didn’t pay the $130,000 the city demanded.

The city’s corporation counsel could not be reached Thursday for an update on the payment demand, but Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey told Courthouse News last week that the city “is not committed to any future legal action” but has a “lengthy and successful track record on recovering costs under the false statement ordinance.”

Smollett’s attorneys at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila and Geragos & Geragos also did not respond Thursday to questions about the payment deadline.

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