TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

Chicago to sue Jussie Smollett for costs of investigation

CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett has refused to pay more than $130,000 to reimburse Chicago investigative costs and the city said Thursday it will sue the “Empire” actor for money spent investigating what officials say was a phony racist, anti-gay attack that Smollett staged.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s law chief sent Smollett a March 28 letter demanding he pay $130,106 — plus 15 cents — for overtime worked by detectives and officers in looking into his claims. It set Thursday as the deadline to pay.

The City Law Department said in a Thursday evening statement that it was already drafting a lawsuit in response and would file it “in the near future.”

Smollett, who is black and gay, maintains he told the truth in reporting that two masked men assaulted him in downtown Chicago on Jan. 29, shouting slurs and wrapping a rope around his neck. He said his attackers also yelled, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

The lawsuit could lead to a civil trial, where jurors would have to answer the question of whether Smollett orchestrated the attack.

There will be no criminal trial on that question after Cook County prosecutors last week dropped all 16 felony counts against Smollett, saying they believed they could prove the charges but that it wasn’t worth the time and expense. The surprise decision angered Emanuel, who called it a “whitewash” and said the city’s reputation “was dragged through the mud” by Smollett.

Questions persist about what made prosecutors abandon the case barely five weeks after "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett was accused of lying to police about being the target of a racist, anti-gay attack in Chicago. (March 28)

Tap to unmute

“As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance,” the statement from Chicago said. It didn’t specify what those damages could be.

The municipal code stipulates that the city can triple the amount originally demanded if someone fails to pay an initial amount. That means the city could demand more than $390,000 from Smollett. If a civil case is decided in the city’s favor and Smollett still refuses to pay, his bank accounts could be frozen and his wages garnished.

A spokeswoman for Smollett’s legal team declined comment on the latest development.

When the city raised the issue last week of Smollett reimbursing Chicago, the actor’s lawyers said it was city officials “who owe” Smollett “an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud.” They added: “Jussie has paid enough.”

Smollett admitted no wrongdoing, but he did agree to do some community service before charges were dropped. He also agreed to forfeit $10,000 he paid in bond money after he was charged, which some legal experts say city lawyers could try to use against him in the civil case as an implied admission of guilt.

Taking the matter to trial, carries risks for Smollett, including by extending negative publicity and potentially making it harder for him to get his entertainment career back on track.

Much of the evidence that would have been presented at a criminal trial would be brought out at any civil trial. Smollett could also be required to sit for depositions, forcing him for the first time to explain evidence that prosecutors said demonstrated he was lying.

To the city’s advantage, the threshold for proving he staged the incident will be lower than in criminal court. The city won’t have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Smollett staged the attack in civil court, only that it’s more likely true than not true that he did.

Among the risks for the city is that the civil litigation could end up costing far more in legal bills than it could ever hope to get from Smollett. In any lawsuit, there’s always the possibility that a judge throws it out before it ever gets to trial.

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, who will be sworn in as Chicago’s mayor on May 20, could reverse any legal action Emanuel’s law office takes against Smollett in coming weeks. Lightfoot will be Chicago’s first black female mayor.

Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, said during a pre-election debate that “the public has to have answers as to why these charges were dismissed.” But she hasn’t detailed any action she might take as mayor regarding Smollett.

The Smollett case and the city’s effort to make him pay are both highly unusual, according to several legal experts.

One with some similarities is the case of a University of Iowa physician, Gary Hunninghake, who reported that he was attacked and stabbed while jogging in Chicago in 2010. After contradictions in his account, he eventually conceded he’d stabbed himself. A year later, he was ordered to pay more than $15,000 to reimburse the city for costs of the investigation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

Florida’s Randy Ross to Present “Grassroots Wins Elections” in Silicon Valley Sunday

SILICON VALLEY, Ca. (FNN NEWS) - Following a trend seen in the past year, a…

California governor signs law to limit shootings by police

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Spurred by the fatal police shooting of a young unarmed black…

Omar: Go to Israel, see ‘cruel reality of the occupation’

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib sharply criticized Israel…

[OPINION] Epstein: Suicide or Murder?

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - According to the Bureau of Prisons, on the morning of…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Rick Singh, 2019 State of Orange County Real Estate Lean into Tech

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Nearly 1,000 attendees filled Orange County Property Appraiser (OCPA) Rick…

Governor DeSantis: Florida Joins 29 States in Enhancing Voter Registration

ORLANDO, Fla. – (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced at the…

Governor DeSantis Announces New Health Plans for State Retirees that Offer Access to Affordable, High-Quality Care

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis announced today that new health plan options will be…

Orange County Property Appraiser to Host 2019 State of Orange County Real Estate Event

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh, CFA, will deliver the 2019 State…

FNN SPORTS

  • Toni Pressley launches the ball into the net for her very first goal with the Orlando Pride against FC Kansas City at Orlando City Stadium July 15, 2017. Photo: Mark Thor/Orlando City SC.
    ORLANDO (FNN SPORTS) - Orlando Pride Defender Toni Pressley Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

MORE SPORTS NEWS

Jaguars Sign Quadree Henderson and Davis Tull, Cut Two

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed second-year WR Quadree Henderson and second-year LB Davis Tull,…

Special Olympics Athletes Unite to Inspire and Design 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Logo

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Source: Special Olympics // Today, the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games Organizing Committee…

Jaguars Launch New Mobile App and Introduce Secure Digital Ticketing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars today introduced an all-new mobile app through a partnership…

Orlando Pride Defender Toni Pressley Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando Pride // Orlando Pride defender Toni Pressley has…

Orlando City Brings Out Big Guns in 2-0 Victory Against FC Dallas

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Orlando City SC, fresh from MLS All-Star Week and the…

Governor Ron DeSantis to Attend the 2019 MLS All-Star Game

ORLANDO, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis to attend the 2019 MLS All-Star Game and visit…

BUSINESS NEWS

  • An African American family has fun flexing for the camera at Universal Orlando Resort.
    ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) - Universal Orlando Resort Reveals First-Time Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Mass Shootings Give Rise to Bullet-Resistant Backpacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Companies like Guard Dog Security, TuffyPacks and Bullet Blocker are peddling…

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

Orlando Continues to Support Small Businesses

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Small businesses play such an important role in the economies…

S&P 500 posts its worst week of 2019 as trade tensions flare

Investors rattled by President Donald Trump’s latest escalation in his trade war with China drove…

ID theft stings, but it’s hard to pin on specific data hacks

NEW YORK (AP) — Equifax 2017. Marriott 2018. Capital One 2019. Data breaches through hacking attacks…

Apple Announces New Batch of Emojis on World Emoji Day

Cupertino, CA (FNN NEWS) — July 17th is National Emoji Day! What better way to celebrate…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

  • blink-182 and Lil Wayne (center) launch their North American Tour June 27, 2019. Photo: Live Nation.
    LOS ANGELES (FNN NEWS) - blink-182 and Lil Wayne Join Forces for Co-Headlining Summer Tour

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

Orange TV Shines throughout a Quarter Century of Excellence

In 1995, when Orange TV began as a 24-hour broadcast station that televised programming related…

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Dead at 88

NEW YORK (AP) — Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, a pioneer and reigning giant of modern…

US presidential envoy sent to Sweden for A$AP Rocky’s trial

HELSINKI (AP) — American rapper A$AP Rocky pleaded not guilty to assault as his trial…

Photos: Wall Street Plaza Comes Alive with Orlando City Viewing Party & MLS All-Star Concert

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Soccer fans from all over the world gathered at Wall…

Man in A$AP Rocky case allegedly hit with bottle, kicked

HELSINKI (AP) — The man allegedly assaulted by American rapper A$AP Rocky and two other…

LIFESTYLE: TRAVEL, TOURISM, THEME PARKS

  • LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - 26th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Blooms for 90 Days at Walt Disney World Resort (Photo courtesy Walt Disney World)

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

Rick Singh, 2019 State of Orange County Real Estate Lean into Tech

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Nearly 1,000 attendees filled Orange County Property Appraiser (OCPA) Rick…

Lavish Orlando Boat Show Returns to Orange County Convention Center

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - The Orlando Boat Show has taken over the Orange County…

City of Orlando Re-Opens Constitution Green Park

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Residents and their dogs gathered in Downtown Orlando to be…

[VIDEO] Exclusive: Orlando Flash Flooding Causes Stalled Cars and Traffic Delays at Fashion Square

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - One of Florida’s typical “afternoon monsoons,” in this case a…

Universal Orlando Resort Reveals Passholder Appreciation Days Perks

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Source: Universal // Universal Orlando Resort revealed that for the…

[Cannabis 101] Bud Fact Sheet: Afghan Kush

If you're pursuing medical marijuana for your wellbeing, you may think all marijuana is created…