A Chicago fire is spiking under “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s seat as the deadline approaches for his due payment of more than $130,000 to the city following a costly investigation into an allegedly staged hate attack.
Smollett was recently cleared of all charges for staging a racist hate crime on himself. The results sparked heavy reactions from several politicians and Chicago-based lawmakers including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who referred to the incident as a “whitewash” of justice.
President Donald Trump also pledged that the Department of Justice would be examining Smollett’s case further. In a tweet, Trump called the results of the case “an embarrassment to the nation.”
But Smollett didn’t quite walk away for free. The actor was forced to part with a $10,000 bond and commit to community service hours following the conclusion of his case. Chicago officials have also demanded that the actor pay more than $130,000 to cover the costs of his investigation. A letter was sent to the actor on March 28 demanding the money within seven days.
As that seven-day period comes to an end, Smollett could face further legal action if he refuses to cough up the cash. At press time, non-payment may spark a potential civil trial against Smollett. In that event, his case could be reopened, though the standards in civil court are lower than they are in a criminal court setting.
The irony of the situation is that Smollett reportedly staged the attack out of disappointment regarding his “Empire” salary. How staging a false, anti-gay and racist attack on himself would open the doors to more money leaves a lot of room for contemplation, but the funny thing is that the attack appears to be having the opposite effect.
No matter which way Smollett turns, he’s likely to be facing further financial complications. If he pays the city what it’s demanding, he’s out $130,000. If he refuses, he may face a civil lawsuit where city officials can potentially increase their financial demands. Either way, Smollett stands to lose out regardless of where he turns.
The one card Smollett has left to play comes in the form of Chicago’s mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot, who could reverse any legal action against the actor following her swear-in date of May 20. Like Smollett, Lightfoot is African-American and openly gay.
One thing is for sure. With a little help from “MAGA Country,” Smollett has certainly acquired the fame he was probably so desperately seeking with his little stunt. For someone who hates what MAGA stands for, MAGA sure has made Smollett something of a household name.