Actor Jussie Smollett heads to a Chicago court Monday on charges relatedly to allegedly faking a hate crime nearly three years ago.
The former “Empire” star, 39, has been charged with lying to police. He claimed he was targeted in a racist and anti-gay attack near his Chicago apartment in 2019.
The actor told police at the time that he was accosted while walking home and that two men began yelling racist and homophobic slurs, and that they shouted: “This is MAGA country.” According to Smollett, the men then poured a bleach-like like liquid on him and hung a noose around his neck.
However, brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo, who were extras on “Empire,” later told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack. They’re expected to be key witnesses at his trial.
The actor has maintained that he is innocent and that he paid for personal training, not to stage an attack.
Smollett was initially charged with disorderly conduct for reporting the allegedly staged confrontation, but that charge was dropped. He was indicted last year on six counts of disorderly conduct, all low-level felonies.
The current charges against Smollett carry a maximum sentence of three years. A lighter sentence or even probation is the likely outcome if Smollett is convicted, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Prosecutors claimed that Smollett faked the attack because he was upset with the “Empire” studio, in part because of his pay.
The controversy over his case led to Smollett being written out of “Empire.”
A special prosecutor assigned to examine how Smollett’s case was handled concluded last year that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office abused their discretion in the case, but did nothing criminal.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.