Jussie Smollett Indicted on 16 Counts of Disorderly Conduct for Allegedly Making False Reports
Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury in Chicago, according to multiple reports.
Smollett, who was charged on Feb. 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.
A representative for the Cook County State’s Attorney did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Smollett and his legal team previously said they are gearing up to launch an “aggressive defense,” according to his attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” Pugh and Henderson said in a statement given to PEOPLE on Wednesday. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Smollett, who claimed he was the subject of a racist and homophobic attack at the hands of two men on Jan. 29 in Chicago, told investigators that he was attacked by two masked men “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs”. He alleged that brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo beat him, placed a noose around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before fleeing.
Smollett, who was given the presumption of being a victim until the latter stages of the investigation, was the third person arrested in the case.
Brothers Abel and Ola — who were seen on surveillance footage the night of the incident and later questioned by police — were arrested and questioned by police last week but were released after telling police about the alleged hoax.
Authorities allege Smollett of paying the men $3,500 to stage a “bogus” hate crime attack against him to draw attention to himself because the actor was dissatisfied with his salary.
After posting bond and being released from jail last month, Smollett returned to the Chicago set of Empire, the Fox drama in which he stars as main character Jamal Lyon.
At the February hearing, text messages between Smollett and the Osundairo brothers detailed how the 45-second attack was to be allegedly orchestrated were read in court.
If Smollett is found guilty, falsifying a police report is a Class 4 felony which carries a potential sentence of up to three years in prison.
Fox and representatives for Smollett did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Smollett is scheduled to be arraigned on March 14.