ET has confirmed that the Empire actor has been indicted on 16 felony counts by a grand jury in Chicago. The grand jury returned the disorderly conduct indictment on Thursday, per the indictment obtained by ET on Friday.
The counts focus on allegedly false statements made to two different Chicago Police officers.
"Jussie Smollett knew that at the time of this transmission there was no reasonable ground for believing that such offenses had been committed," the indictment states.
Following the news of his indictment, Chief Communications Officer of the Chicago Police Department Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: "As Supt Johnson stated, allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful & if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model. We stand behind the work of detectives & refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors."
As Supt Johnson stated, allegations against Mr. Smollett are shameful & if proven, they are an affront to the people of Chicago who embraced him as a neighbor & respected him as a role model. We stand behind the work of detectives & refer any comment on indictment to prosecutors https://t.co/7bFECluCSP
In a statement to ET on Friday, Smollett's attorney, Mark Geragos, said: "The fact of an indictment was not unexpected. We knew that there is no way they would expose their evidence to a public airing and subject their witnesses to cross-examination. What is unexpected, however, is the prosecutorial overkill in charging 16 separate counts against Jussie. This redundant and vindictive indictment is nothing more than a desperate attempt to make headlines in order to distract from the internal investigation launched to investigate the outrageous leaking of false information by the Chicago Police Department and the shameless and illegal invasion of Jussie's privacy in tampering with his medical records. Jussie adamantly maintains his innocence even if law enforcement has robbed him of that presumption."
How Jussie Smollett Allegedly Orchestrated His Attack, According to Authorities
Johnson addressed reporters in Chicago and alleged the actor paid $3,500 to stage an attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his Empire salary. Johnson also alleged that Smollett concocted the threatening letter he received prior to the alleged attack that contained homophobic and racist language, and when that "didn't work," went ahead with the attack.
"As far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on his face were most likely self-inflicted," Johnson alleged. " ... Empire actor Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career."
"How can an individual who has been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face?" he continued. "Bogus police reports cause real harm. They cause harm to legitimate victims who are in need of support by police and by investigators as well as the citizens in the city. I'm offended by what's happened and I'm also angry."
In a statement to ET, Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, denied the allegations: “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. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."