Jussie Smollett attorney calls 16-count indictment "vindictive"

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Following their deliberations, the grand jury has reportedly returned with 16 felony counts against the actor for the same charge.

ABC News in America reports there are two new sets of charges. Cook County prosecutors chose to charge Smollett with the single count while awaiting the decision of a so-called "John Doe" jury, which sits daily in Chicago criminal court and analyzes evidence presented without knowledge of the perpetrator. The counts in the indictment obtained by CNN say Smollett gave statements to a Chicago police officer after the incident and to a detective.

"A conviction on any count could lead to a sentence ranging from probation to up to three years in prison", the Chicago Tribune reports.

Smollett, who is accused of filing a false police report, was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct. Smollett already pleaded not guilty to an earlier charge of disorderly conduct last month and was released on $100,000 bond.

The first concerns what the actor told police following the alleged attack - the allegations that they had yelled slurs, the noose and the beating itself. The two brothers who allegedly participated are black. Apparently, he wants us to believe two friends of his waited around in the middle of the night in subzero Chicago weather for an opportunity to commit a hate crime against him while posing as Trump supporters.

Mark Geragos represents Jussie Smollett and spoke to Access about the newest updates and additional charges.

FOX via Getty Images
FOX via Getty Images

He is scheduled to be arraigned on March 14.

"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time ... there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", according to the indictment, reported CBS Chicago.

The actor's attorneys released a statement on Saturday, claiming "Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with". Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed two men hurled slurs and looped a rope around his neck on January 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago.

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told police he received a threatening letter at work. "They do harm to every legitimate victim who's in need of support by police and investigators".

Smollett has been written out of the rest of Empire's fifth season, which is now airing on Fox.

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