"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is accused of staging a hate crime against himself because he was "dissatisfied" over his salary—which totals over $1 million per season, according to reports.
Smollett turned himself into the police early Feb. 21 and was charged with a felony for filing a fake police report. According to Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Smollett allegedly "concocted a story about being attacked" because "he was dissatisfied with his salary."
“Bogus police reports cause real harm. They do harm to every legitimate victim,” the police superintendent said. “I’m offended by what’s happened and I’m also angry. This publicity stunt is a scar that Chicago didn’t earn and certainly didn’t deserve.”
Smollett originally claimed he was attacked in Chicago around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, in freezing temperatures by two white men who shouted slurs at him and said “this is MAGA country,” an apparent reference to Trump’s slogan “Make American Great Again.”
Smollett allegedly rehearsed the attack with the brothers several days before Jan. 29 and gave the brothers money to buy the rope, ski masks, and other gear. Surveillance footage obtained by CBS showed the brothers buying the gear.
Police said the trajectory of the investigation changed after receiving this information and on Feb. 20, Smollett was named as a suspect in a criminal investigation for filing a fake police report, which is a class 4 felony. He was called in to present evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury.
The 36-year-old actor is also believed to have orchestrated the sending of a letter to himself, which arrived at the “Empire” studio in Chicago earlier in January. The letter featured a crude drawing of a figure hanging from a noose and letters cut out from a magazine spelling out a threat.
“We understand the seriousness of this matter and we respect the legal process. We are evaluating the situation and we are considering our options,” the company stated.
A day before, the company said in another statement, "Jussie Smollett continues to be a consummate professional on set and as we have previously stated, he is not being written out of the show."