Charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollet for staging hate crime dropped

Illinois prosecutors on Tuesday dropped charges that accused 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett of staging a phony hate crime attack to gain publicity, his attorneys said in a statement.

"Today, all criminal charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and his record has been wiped clean of the filing of this tragic complaint against him," attorneys Tina Glandian and Patricia Brown Holmes said.

Smollett had pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in a Chicago court on March 14.

In the statement, his attorneys said Smollett was a "victim who was vilified and made to appear as a perpetrator."

Prosecutors had accused Smollett, a gay black man who plays a gay musician on the Fox hip-hop drama, of falsely reporting that he was attacked on January 29 in Chicago.

He told police two masked men expressed support for U.S. President Donald Trump, shouted racist and homophobic slurs, slung a noose around his neck and poured a liquid chemical on him. The case made national headlines and garnered significant support for Smollett from celebrities and Democratic presidential candidates.

Two brothers were arrested after they were recognized from surveillance footage.

But prosecutors said Smollett had written a $3,500 check to the brothers and gave them money to buy rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps, all in an effort to use the attack's notoriety to advance his career and secure his higher pay.

A spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television said the network and studio did not have any immediate comment.

The Cook County State Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters