Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for false police report

Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for false police report

Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 counts for false police report

Major development in the Chicago police department's investigation into Jussie Smollett: new reports indicate that a Cook County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against the actor.

Smollett had told police he was assaulted at 2am by two men who shouted homophobic and racist slurs at him and put a noose around his neck.

Smollett was previously charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for the alleged false report he made to Chicago Police following the supposed incident on January 29.

CWBChicago reports that the grand jury's 16-count true bill stated that Smollett lied to two police officers about the incident.

According to various news reports, based on these state charges alone, if convicted on all counts, the 36-year-old could face up to 48 years in prison (one to three years for each count).

Smollett, who was charged on February 20 with disorderly conduct, "knew that at the time ... there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed", according to the indictment obtained by CBS Chicago. Smollett turned himself in on February 21 and was released hours later after posting $10,000 bond.

Smollett said they also yelled, "This is MAGA country", referring to President Donald Trump's campaign slogan of "Make America Great Again".

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Smollett, who is now on bail, is due in court for arraignment on Thursday March 14. The brothers told grand jurors that Smollett hired them to stage the crime.

But skepticism about Smollett's account grew as police continued to investigate, questioning two "persons of interest" who turned out to be brothers of Nigerian descent who had previously worked on Fox's "Empire".

Smollett still maintains that he is innocent. They said he committed the act to further his career.

Apparently, Smollett believed the incident would result in a raise from Empire producers. "I swear to God, I did not do this", Smollett told the cast and crew of "The Empire", according to TMZ.

Recently, rap star Drake's dad Dennis Graham spoke up for Smollett amid his publicized attack and rumors suggesting he might have staged it.

Fox and representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said the actor initially faked a letter using racist and homophobic language.

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