×

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

  • Bert Salke and Jennifer Salke

    Feds Looked Into Amazon Studios Chief Jennifer Salke in College Admissions Scandal

    Federal investigators looked into Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke and her husband, Fox 21 Television Studios president Bert Salke, as they conducted a sprawling probe of cheating in elite college admissions, a source close to the case told Variety. It does not appear, however, that prosecutors will charge the Salkes in the case. The Salkes [...]

  • Variety Cord Cutting Placeholder Cable

    Big Blackout Looms as CBS, AT&T Go Down to Wire on Renewal Talks

    A blackout affecting CBS stations in major markets throughout the country looms as CBS and AT&T executives go down to the wire on negotiations for a retransmission consent deal covering 28 O&O stations. The sides have sparred publicly during the past few days as 11 p.m. PT Friday expiration of the previous contract approached. AT&T [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    ICM Responds to WGA Packaging Lawsuit: Claims are 'Baseless' and 'Absurd'

    ICM Partners has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against four major talent agencies by the Writers Guild of America as part of the larger war between agencies and the guild over packaging fees on TV series and movies. The guild sued ICM, CAA, WME and UTA in California state court in April, [...]

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    CityFM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called CityFM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And while [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content