The Petty Continues: City of Chicago Says It Will Sue Jussie Smollett After He Misses $130,000 Repayment Deadline

Illustration for article titled The Petty Continues: City of Chicago Says It Will Sue Jussie Smollett After He Misses $130,000 Repayment Deadline
Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo (Getty)

Leave it to the Windy City to not let shit go.

The City of Chicago says it intends to sue actor Jussie Smollett after he missed a deadline on Thursday night to pay back the city $130,000 for the cost of investigating the alleged attack against him, Deadline reports. The deadline was imposed by outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.


(Ahem. Sir. You don’t even go here anymore.)

A city spokesperson told Deadline Thursday night:

“Mr. Smollett has refused to reimburse the City of Chicago for the cost of police overtime spent investigating his false police report on January 29.”

“The Law Department is now drafting a civil complaint that will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Once it is filed, the Law Department will send a courtesy copy of the complaint to Mr. Smollett’s L.A. based legal team.”

While Emanuel set Smollett’s fee at $130,000, Chicago can seek as much as $390,000 from the actor, according to the city’s by-laws. According to the Chicago Tribune, the city notified Smollett’s legal reps by letter last week, warning that if the fine wasn’t paid by April 4, city officials “may prosecute you for making a false statement to the city.”

Smollett, best known for his work on the popular TV series, Empire, was accused by Chicago police of staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in late January. By early March, a grand jury returned a 16-count indictment against the actor, who maintained his innocence throughout the scandal. As Smollett and Chicago PD accused each other of wrongdoing, the stage appeared set for a high-profile, messy trial.

That is, until Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office suddenly dropped all charges against Smollett on March 26—cutting a deal with the 36-year-old actor to perform two days of community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City.

The reportedly had Chicago PD leaders losing their damn minds. Emanuel called it a “whitewash of justice”—because, I suppose, he would know best.


Never one to miss an opportunity to throw gasoline on a public relations fire, the Chicago Police Union and some suburban chiefs are calling on Kim Foxx to resign her position following the fiasco (Foxx, for her part, said she didn’t take part in any decision-making about the case).

As for Smollett, Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson told the View Thursday morning that she expects the actor to be back on the show for its sixth season (he was written out of the final two episodes of the current season during the height of the investigation). Other sources tell Deadline that Smollett’s return is unlikely, but the final decision has yet to be made.


Corrected on Friday, April 5 at 10:54 a.m. EDT: An earlier version of this article stated that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollett case. While her office used the term “recuse” in announcing the decision, it later clarified that the term was meant in a colloquial, not a strictly legal sense. The post has been updated to more precisely reflect Foxx’s role.

Updated on Friday, April 5 at 11:14 a.m. EDT: The Chicago Tribune obtained a letter from Smollett’s legal team, sent to the Chicago Law Department, formally refusing to reimburse the city.


Calling the city’s letter “factually and legally flawed” Smollett’s attorneys said their client “will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”

“Your claim that that Mr. Smollett filed a false police report and orchestrated his own attack is false and defamatory,” the letter read. “Furthermore, it is apparent that your threats were made maliciously and in bad faith, and without an honest belief that a cause of action against Mr. Smollett exists.”


You can read the full letter here.

Staff writer, The Root.


The Kinja Assassin

I’m trying to figure out how common it is for a police department to bill somebody for an investigation even after charges were dropped. I’ve never heard of that before or even considered it would be a thing. That seems like something that could be abused by the government. Anyway, some people in the department really have an axe to grind when it comes to Smollett. They’ve been grinding it since the entire thing started. Could be that the Chicago cops are in their feelings about all the misconduct cases against them the past few years and their taking it out on Smollett.