The City of Chicago plans to move forward with a $130,000 lawsuit against Jussie Smollett after the actor was found guilty of staging a racist and homophobic hate crime against himself.
Chicago officials told Newsweek in a statement on Monday that the city will continue to pursue the civil lawsuit, which was initially filed in April 2019 after investigators suspected that Smollett’s claims were part of an elaborate hoax.
The $130,000 price tag would cover the cost of the police investigation that immediately followed the January 2019 alleged attack, amounting to 3,000 hours of work.
“The City filed a civil lawsuit against Jussie Smollett to recover costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department investigating what the City believed to be Smollett’s false police reports that he was a victim of a hate crime,” the statement said. “While using a different standard of proof, the jury’s finding of guilt convicting Jussie Smollett of criminal charges stemming from the incident confirms that the City was correct in bringing its civil lawsuit.”
“The City intends to continue to pursue its lawsuit to hold Smollett accountable for his unlawful actions and to demand that he compensate the City for costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department which took his false claims of harm seriously,” the statement added.
Best known for his role on the hit show “Empire,” a jury of 12 found Smollett guilty on Thursday of orchestrating the fake hate crime and lying to police, which prosecutors said he did as a publicity stunt.
Smollett had faced six counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to police about the attack hoax in the hours after it took place. The counts are considered minor felonies that carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Legal experts, however, expected that Smollett would be sentenced to probation and community service, though a judge could order a harsher sentence.
Smollett had initially claimed to police that two white attackers punched him in the face, poured an “unknown chemical substance” on him and wrapped a rope around his neck. He also said the men shouted “MAGA country,” referencing then-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”
During the investigation, police scanned hundreds of hours of footage and arrested two men who had allegedly attacked Smollett because of the actor’s race and sexuality. After questioning the two men, police determined that Smollett himself should be investigated for fabricating the entire incident.