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‘Empire’ actor Smollett pleads not guilty to lying about Chicago attack

Empire" actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago court on Thursday (March 14) to new charges that he falsely reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault on a city street.

Wearing a navy suit and dress coat, Smollett, 36, appeared serious and quiet standing next to his attorneys as Cook County Circuit Court Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to his case.

In a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury last Thursday, Smollett, who is black, openly gay and plays a gay musician on Fox’s hip-hop drama, was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct alleging he gave false accounts of an attack on him to police investigators.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Smollett was previously charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for making a false report after he told police he was attacked in January by masked supporters of President Donald Trump who beat him, slung a noose round his neck and poured a liquid chemical on him while shouting racist and homophobic slurs.

Detectives investigated the incident as a hate crime but local news outlets cited police sources saying it was believed to be a hoax.

Fox cut Smollett’s character in “Empire” after he was arrested.

According to prosecutors, Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps used in the supposed Police said Smollett hoped the incident would advance his career and secure him a higher salary.

(Production: Kia Johnson)

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