“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett put on an Oscar worthy performance after learning he was sentenced to 150 days in Cook County jail and immediately taken into custody.
Smollett was found guilty of 5 felonies related to a false police report that he filed when he claimed to be the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime in 2019, which jurors ultimately determined he staged when his trial concluded in December.
Jussie Smollett checked in to Cook County Jail.
— Sabrina Franza (@sabrinafranza) March 11, 2022
Prior to sentencing on Thursday, the actor’s defense team argued that he deserved a new trial on the basis that his constitutional rights were violated because COVID-19 restrictions limited spectators in the courtroom and the media spectacle had tainted the public’s opinion of his guilt.
Smollett, who arrived 10 minutes late to court, cried as his family pleaded for leniency on the stand. Well-known supporters including actor Samuel L. Jackson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and N.A.A.C.P. president Derrick Johnson wrote letters asking Judge James Linn to not include jail time in his sentence.
Linn said that there was “nothing unconstitutional” about the trial, and had scathing words for Smollett, who he called “profoundly arrogant and selfish and narcissistic.”
“The hypocrisy is just astounding,” he continued. “You’re just a charlatan, pretending to be a victim of a hate crime.”
Linn said he doesn’t believe money was the motivation behind the crime, rather that Smollett “craved the attention.” He also said the actor “did damage to actual hate crime victims,” who will have “trepidation” coming forward after Smollett’s “stunt.”
“The damage you have done to yourself is way beyond anything that could be done by me,” he concluded. “Your very name has become an adverb for lying, and I can’t imagine what would be worse than that.”
Smollett was sentenced to five months in jail, but will only have to serve half the time. He was also given 30 months of probation, a $25,000 fine, and was ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution for wasting police resources.
Smollett went wild when the verdict was pronounced, leaping out of his seat and raising a fist. “I am innocent. I could have said I was guilty a long time ago,” he yelled at Linn.
“If I did this then it means I stuck my fist in the fears of black people for over 400 years,” he continued. “If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not to it to myself, and you must all know that.”
The judge denied the defense’s request to postpone Smollett’s sentence, and he was led away by court officers as he shouted: “I am not suicidal. I am innocent.”