Jussie Smollett maintained his innocence during his sentencing hearing Thursday after a judge sentenced the former Empire actor to 150 days in jail for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he orchestrated himself.
Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the television show Empire that filmed in Chicago, testified that he did not recognize them and did not know they were the men attacking him.
Cook County Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in the county jail. Linn denied a request to suspend Smollett’s sentence and ordered he be placed in custody immediately.
Smollett was also ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago.
Smollett loudly declared innocence after the sentence. “I am innocent. I could have said I am guilty a long time ago,” Smollett shouted as sheriff’s deputies led him out of the courtroom, capping an hours long sentencing hearing.
Before Linn handed down the sentence, Smollett’s defense attorney Nenye Uche asked Linn to limit the sentence to community service. He said Smollett “has lost nearly everything” in his career and finances and asked that Linn give him time to make restitution if that is part of the sentence.
Smollett faced up to three years in prison for each of the five felony counts of disorderly conduct — the charge filed for lying to police — of which he was convicted. He was acquitted on a sixth count.
But because Smollett does not have an extensive criminal history and the conviction is for a low-level nonviolent crime, experts did not expect him to be sent to prison.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter