Jussie Smollett Will Not Be ‘Intimidated’ Into Paying for Probe, Attorney Says

Jussie Smollett’s attorney sent a defiant letter to the City of Chicago on Thursday evening, saying the “Empire” actor will not be “intimidated” into paying for the investigation of his alleged hate crime.

The city has said it intends to sue Smollett to recoup the $130,000 in police overtime costs arising from the incident, which Smollett is accused of staging. Smollett was initially indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report, but the charges were dropped suddenly last week.

In his letter to the city, attorney Mark Geragos said that Smollett maintains his innocence, and that it would be both unprecedented and unconstitutional for the city to pursue him in civil court.

“Your letter represents part of a course of conduct intended to harass and irreparably injure Mr. Smollett,” Geragos wrote, adding that such an action would be an abuse of the city’s false claims ordinance. “Our research discloses no cases in which the municipal ordinance to try to get a second bite at the apple once charges against a criminal defendant have been dismissed.”

Under the ordinance, the city could seek to recoup three times the cost of the investigation, or about $390,000. The city has said it is drafting a civil complaint to recoup the “full measure” of damages in the case, and will file it soon.

In his letter, Geragos argued that any effort to prosecute Smollett under the ordinance would violate the principle of double jeopardy. Smollett has already forfeited a $10,000 bond payment to the city in connection with the dismissal of the felony charges.

If the city moves ahead with the suit, Geragos said he would subpoena Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, both of whom have been outspoken in denouncing Smollett’s conduct and in expressing their dismay at the State’s Attorney’s decision to drop the charges.

“In light of their apparent vested interest in this matter, we are confident that Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent Johnson will not object to providing their testimony under oath,” Geragos wrote.

Smollett has claimed that he was assaulted on the streets of Chicago on Jan. 29. He told police that two men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and put a noose around his neck. The investigation found that Smollett had hired his personal trainer and the trainer’s brother to attack him.

In a footnote to the letter, Geragos attempts to argue that Smollett’s initial claims to police were consistent with the department’s ultimate conclusions. “The investigation revealed that Mr. Smollett’s statements to police — that on January 29, 2019, two men attacked him while yelling racial and homophobic slurs — were, in fact, true,” Geragos wrote.

More Biz

  • The dark Manhatten skyline, seen from

    StubHub Refunds $500,000 to Customers Shut Out by New York Blackout

    Saturday’s blackout in New York had an outsized effect on the city’s nightlife, with Madison Square Garden and the entire Broadway district seeing multiple shows cancelled due to the the power outage. As a result, StubHub has refunded more than $500,000 worth of tickets for cancelled events. According to a statement from the company, the StubHub [...]

  • Weapons Cache

    D.A. Files 64 Charges in Bel-Air Weapons Stockpile Case

    The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has filed 64 counts against Girard Saenz, the man who allegedly kept a stockpile of more than 1,000 weapons at a Bel-Air home linked to the Getty family. Saenz is accused of illegal possession of assault weapons, transferring handguns without a dealer license, possession of short-barreled shotguns, and possession [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett in the series

    Fox Sees Primetime, Sports Ad Gains As TV Upfront Wraps

    Fox Corporation is the latest to benefit from stronger-than-expected trends in TV ad spending, as the company notched strong gains in advertising commitments for its next cycle of programming – its first since selling off a large chunk of its media assets to Walt Disney. Ad demand was stronger than many executives anticipated, according to [...]

  • BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior

    BMI Promotes David Levin to Senior VP of Digital Licensing

    BMI today announced that David Levin has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Licensing, effective immediately. In his newly expanded role, Levin is responsible for all of BMI’s domestic licensing and revenue generation, encompassing radio, television, digital media, cable, satellite and general licensing.  Levin, who will oversee teams in New York and Nashville, reports [...]

  • Warner Music Group Logo

    Warner Music Acquires Musical Theater Indie First Night Records

    Warner Music Group has acquired First Night Record, an independent record label for West End and Broadway musical theatre cast recordings. The company will be overseen by WMG’s Arts Music Division, led by President Kevin Gore. First Night co-founder John Craig will join the Arts Music team under a multi-year consulting agreement to identify and record musical theatre productions in [...]

  • Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House

    Woodstock 50 to Hold Open House for Local Residents Before Permit Review Tuesday

    If nothing else, the producers of Woodstock 50 are persistent. After two permit applications to hold the troubled festival at the Vernon Downs racetrack in Upstate New York were rejected by the town of Vernon codes office, the producers and venue owner Jeffrey Gural today invited the local community “to embrace the Festival’s spirit of [...]

  • ILM Star Wars The Force Awakens

    ILM to Open Latest Effects Facility in Sydney, Australia

    Sydney, Australia, is to be home to Industrial Light & Magic’s fifth production hub. The Disney-owned special effects company currently has facilities in San Francisco, Vancouver, London and Singapore. The decision to open the Sydney outpost was announced Monday local time by executive creative director and head of ILM Rob Bredow, ILM executive Luke Hetherington, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content