News World US Actor Smollett jailed for fake hate attack
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Actor Smollett jailed for fake hate attack

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American actor Jussie Smollett has shouted his innocence after a judge sentenced him to 150 days in jail for lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack that he orchestrated himself.

Cook County Judge James Linn sentenced one-time star of the TV drama Empire to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in the county jail, on Thursday (US time).

Judge Linn denied a request to suspend Smollett’s sentence and ordered he be placed in custody immediately.

Smollett was also ordered to pay $US120,106 ($163,000) in restitution to the city of Chicago.

Smollett loudly declared his innocence after the sentence was handed down.

“I am innocent. I could have said I am guilty a long time ago,” he shouted as sheriff’s deputies led him out of the courtroom, capping an hours-long sentencing hearing.

Judge Linn excoriated Smollett before delivering his sentence and pronounced himself astounded by Smollett’s actions given the actor’s multiracial background and history working on behalf of social justice organisations.

“For you now to sit here, convicted of hoaxing, hate crimes … the hypocrisy is just astounding,” Mr Linn said.

Before sentencing, Smollett’s lawyer Nenye Uche asked for community service, saying Smollett “has lost nearly everything” in his career and finances.

Smollett faced up to three years in prison for each of the five felony counts of disorderly conduct – the charge filed for lying to police – of which he was convicted. He was acquitted on a sixth count.

The case made international headlines when Smollett, who is black and gay, told police in January 2019 that two men wearing ski masks beat him, and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him on a dark Chicago street and ran off.

In December 2021, Smollett was convicted in a trial that included the testimony of two brothers who told jurors Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for the ski masks and rope, and instructed them to fashion the rope into a noose.

Prosecutors said he told them what racist and homophobic slurs to shout, and to yell that Smollett was in “MAGA Country”, a reference to the campaign slogan of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Smollett, who knew the men from his work on the television show Empire, which was filmed in Chicago, testified he did not recognise them and did not know they were the men attacking him.

– AAP