CHICAGO (CBS) — In an indication that the case against him is intensifying, “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has lawyered up—way up—hiring Los Angeles-based attorney Mark Geragos.
CBS 2’s Brad Edwards confirms Geragos will serve on Smollett’s defense team, which will still be led by Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson.
Geragos’ client list includes pop star Michael Jackson, actor Winona Ryder, and singers Chris Brown and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
That news comes as two men once considered potential suspects in the alleged attack on Smollett were moments away from testifying to a Cook County grand jury on Tuesday, before a last-minute phone call from Smollett’s defense team convinced prosecutors to postpone the testimony.
CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar has learned the brothers were waiting outside the grand jury chambers at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday, just minutes from testifying, when the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office got a call from Smollett’s lawyers, claiming they possibly have new evidence.
Prosecutors decided to postpone the brothers’ testimony, which would have been the first step toward indicting Smollett for filing a false police report.
Ola and Abel Osundairo were arrested last week, but later released without charges. Sources said the two brothers told police they helped stage the attack with Smollett. They said they were paid $3,500 to pour a chemical on the actor, and place a rope around his neck, while yelling racist and homophobic slurs.
Smollett claims two men attacked him in Streeterville early Jan. 29 as he was heading to his apartment. He said they yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, poured a chemical on him and put a rope around his neck.
Sources say at least one of the brothers bought the rope used in the incident at Smollett’s request. The sources also say the “Empire” actor paid for the rope, which was purchased at the Crafty Beaver Hardware Store in the Ravenswood neighborhood the weekend of Jan. 25.
Sources said one of the brothers held the rope and poured bleach while the other wore a plain red hat and yelled slurs at Smollett.
The sources say the red hat was bought at an Uptown beauty supply store and that the attack was supposed to happen before Jan. 29. The brothers told detectives the three men rehearsed the attack days prior to it happening. Smollett paid the brothers $3,500.
Geragos will assist Smollett’s Chicago attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, who have denied the reports Smollett staged the attack.