Jussie Smollett Guilty on Five of Six Counts for Lying About Hate Crime

A Chicago jury has found former Empire actor Jussie Smollett guilty on five of six charges that he lied to police about being the target of a January 2019 hate crime.

On Thursday, jurors reached a verdict on the six counts of disorderly conduct, finding the 39-year-old guilty of making three false police reports alleging that two acquaintances carried out a racist, anti-gay attack on Smollett. Smollett was found not guilty on the count of making a false police report that he was the victim of aggravated battery.

Closing arguments began on Wednesday after a week-long trial. The jury deliberated for over nine hours.

Smollett took the stand on both Monday and Tuesday, repeatedly denying that the attack was staged for publicity and telling the courtroom "there was no hoax on my part."

The actor disputed testimony from the brothers Abimbola and Ola Osundairo, who allege Smollett paid them $3,500 to carry out the attack in downtown Chicago. Smollett testified that the check he wrote Abimbola in the same amount was for workout and nutritional advice.

The brothers, who played extras on Empire and who Smollett called "liars" during the trial, also took the stand.

Abimbola told the court that Smollett "wanted me to beat him up" and that he did so because he "believed [Smollett] could help further my acting career."

He added that Smollett "had this crazy idea of having two MAGA supporters attack him," which he also told the brothers he wanted to share on social media.

Jussie Smollett Verdict Jury Hate Crime
Former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building for day seven of his trial on December 8, 2021 in Chicago. Scott Olson/Getty

In the prosecution's closing arguments, special prosecutor Dan Webb told the jury, "Mr. Smollett went on that witness stand, took an oath that he's going to tell the truth [and] he made many, many false statements to you. He lied under oath to you as jurors."

Webb also accused Smollett of withholding evidence from police, saying the actor did not turn over his cell phone or DNA to police. Smollett claims it was due to privacy concerns.

"This has nothing to do with his privacy. Smollett didn't want the police to figure out he wasn't injured that night," Webb told the court, adding that "no real victim would decline to give police a DNA sample."

Conviction of the felonies in the case carries a possible sentence of up to three years in prison, but Smollett's lack of criminal history makes it unlikely that he would face time behind bars.