Jussie Smollett was arrested early Thursday morning in Chicago for allegedly filing a false police report.
The Empire actor, who said he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack last month in Chicago, surrendered to authorities at 5 a.m. local time, police said.
At 5:27 a.m., Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted that the actor was “in the custody of detectives.”
Smollett’s arrest came after he was charged a day earlier with felony disorderly conduct and filing a false police on Jan. 29, which police say is a class 4 felony.
If the singer-songwriter is found guilty, he could spend up to three years in prison. It’s also possible Smollett could be ordered to pay restitution to cover the cost of the police investigation.
Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson held a news conference Thursday morning and accused the actor of staging the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary” on Empire.
“First Smollett attempted to gain attention by sending a false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language,” Johnson said. “When that didn’t work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack… The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary so he concocted a story about being attacked.”
The letter was sent to Fox studios in Chicago on Jan. 22. When the note didn’t receive the attention Smollett desired, police said Smollett allegedly hired two Nigerian brothers — Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo — to participate in a staged attack on Jan. 29.
Police said they have the $3,500 personal check Smollett allegedly gave the brothers for their involvement. Under the actor’s direction, the brothers allegedly poured bleach over him and placed a noose around his neck.
Johnson, citing phone records, claimed Smollett talked to the brothers “an hour or so” before the incident and after.
Johnson also slammed Smollett for allegedly making “false accusations,” saying: “Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations? How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?”
He added, “Bogus police reports cause real harm.”
The 36-year-old actor’s legal team didn’t issue a statement Thursday morning, but they did speak out following their client’s indictment.
“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” his Chicago-based attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”