CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago’s Law Department has billed “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett for the costs of the Chicago Police Department investigation that determined he was lying about being the victim of a hate crime in January.
In a letter sent to Smollett titled “Re: Repayment of Investigation Costs for False Police Report,” the city’s Corporation Counsel writes that it requires “immediate payment of the $130,106.15 expended on overtime hours in the investigation of this matter.”
The letter goes on to say if the amount is not paid in a timely manner the Department of Law may prosecute Smollett for making a false statement.
“A violation of the false statement ordinance imposes a fine of not less than $500.00 and a maximum of $1,000.00, plus up to three times the amount of damages the City sustains as a result of the violation,” the letter states.
“Given that he doesn’t feel any sense of contrition and remorse, my recommendation is when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the word ‘I’m accountable for the hoax,’” Emanuel said at an unrelated event on Thursday.
Emanuel also responded to President Donald Trump’s claim on Twitter that the FBI and Justice Department will review the Smollett case, after Cook County prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett this week.
Although Emanuel himself has criticized that decision, saying police had solid evidence Smollett was guilty, the mayor said Trump should butt out.
“My recommendation is the president go to Opening Day baseball, sit on the sideline, stay out of this. You created a toxic environment,” Emanuel said.
The mayor pointed to President Trump’s comments about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a counter protester was killed. The president said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the protests.
“The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is from the environment, the toxic environment that Donald Trump created. This is a president who drew a moral equivalency between people who are trying to perpetuate bigotry and those who are trying to fight bigotry,” Emanuel said. “President Trump should literally take his politics, move it aside. He’s created a toxic environment, now he’s created a toxic, vicious cycle.”
The unusual move by prosecutors to drop the charges without a plea deal allowed Smollett’s attorneys to get the case sealed. If he wants to get his case formally expunged, his lawyers would have to file a motion with Presiding Cook County Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin. If and when that happens, the records in the case would be briefly unsealed, and anyone could file an objection to expunging the records.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office volunteered to notify the media if and when Smollett’s attorneys file a motion to expunge the case, so they would have an opportunity to object. Martin said it typically takes 70 days to close out an expungement request, and the law allows a 60-day period for objections to be filed.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Smollett’s attorneys said they “have not and will not file a motion for destruction of any records in this case.”
“We support the court files being preserved,” attorney Patricia Brown Holmes stated in an email.
Smollett has maintained his innocence.
The actor, who is black and openly gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. He claimed two masked men – one of them also wearing a red hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him.
Police said, in reality, Smollett had paid the two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack, because he was upset with his salary on “Empire.”
Emanuel said Smollett owes the city an apology, not just for the financial costs of the case, but for the damage to the city’s reputation.
“I think we’ve got to be clear about this, that there was an action here, in my view, that is a hoax,” Emanuel said. “The grand jury believed that. They were shown a sliver of evidence, and they came to a conclusion.”
“He has cost not only the city financially, that’s just one,” he added. “Also, a sense of the wrong he’s done by taking advantage of our values as a welcoming city that welcomes people of all walks of life and all backgrounds to feel comfortable in the city. So when he does pay the city back, on just purely what the taxpayers have fronted, in that memo section he can write ‘I’m sorry, and I’m accountable for what I’ve done.’”
Prosecutors have said, although they agreed to drop charges, they do not believe Smollett is innocent. They have said they dropped the case because Smollett had no previous violent criminal record, agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail, and performed 16 hours of community service.