Former Empire star Jussie Smollett again appeared in a Chicago courtroom Wednesday on matters stemming from that 2019 incident in which he claims he was jumped by two white supporters of President Donald Trump in what he alleges was a hate crime.
The Chicago Tribune reports Wednesday’s proceedings centered on one of Smollett’s attorneys, Nenye Uche, having a potential conflict of interest in the case. Nigerian brothers Abimbolaand Olabinjo Osundairo, who claimed Smollett paid them $3,500 by check to help orchestrate and stage the crime, said Uche had previously reached out to represent them, something Uche denies.
Smollett was indicted for a second time in February of last year on six counts, including lying to investigators about the case. Prosecutors maintain he’d hired the brothers to stage the incident, and furnished as evidence the check the actor claimed was for “personal training.”
After they were seen on surveillance footage near the crime scene, the brothers told police Smollett concocted the assault after he became upset that a threatening letter sent to him did not get enough attention, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
Smollett continues to insist the attack wasn’t staged.
Dan Webb, the special prosecutor tapped to investigate the case after the charges were initially dropped, said in February of 2020 that the actor made “numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime he, in fact, knew had not occurred.”
That letter itself, which contained a white powder later found to be a pain reliever, is the center of a separate federal investigation. At the time, former Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson claimed the letter was also phony, but the investigation is apparently still ongoing.
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