Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is facing a new indictment that revives charges claiming he staged a hate hoax on himself last year.
The new indictment from a special Cook County grand jury includes six counts of disorderly conduct and comes nearly a year after similar charges were suddenly dropped against the actor under a surprise deal criticized by police, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb announced the charges Tuesday, saying they were being pursued again “in the interest of justice.”
He said the original indictment last year was “strong” and suggested prosecutors failed to give a good reason for their decision to drop a prior slate of 16 counts of disorderly conduct.
“The State’s Attorney’s office decision-makers overseeing the Smollett resolution decision have not identified any new evidence they learned of between the time of indictment and dismissal of the indictment that changed their view that the evidence was strong,” Webb said.
Smollett, 37, claimed in January 2019 that two men physically attacked him on the street outside his Chicago apartment.
The black, openly gay actor claimed his alleged assailants hung a noose around his neck, doused him with a mystery chemical and used racist and homophobic slurs.
Investigators later claimed they found evidence Smollett faked the racist, anti-gay attack on himself with the hope it would garner public sympathy and boost his acting career.
They identified bodybuilding brothers Olabingo “Ola” Osundairo and Abimbola “Abel” Osundairo as the assailants caught on surveillance video near the scene outside Smollett’s apartment. One of the men was an extra on “Empire.”
Officials claimed Smollett paid $3,500 to stage the attack.
On March 7, 2019, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 counts of disorderly conduct.
Three weeks later, Chicago prosecutors made the bombshell announcement they were dismissing all charges in exchange for community service and the forfeiture of Smollett’s $10,000 bond payment.
A Cook County judge later ruled State’s Attorney Kim Foxx erred when she assigned the case to a deputy instead of seeking a special prosecutor after she recused herself.
The judge ruled in June that an independent prosecutor would re-investigate the bizarre case, saying Smollett could still face prosecution “if reasonable grounds exist.”
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