The Jussie Smollett case has taken a major turn, and he is now the suspect in a criminal investigation.
The “Empire” star has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, claiming he was attacked January 29 around 2 a.m. outside his Chicago apartment building by two men who yelled racist and homophobic slurs, leaving him with a rope around his neck.
Since Jussie reported the incident last month, sources have come forward telling TMZ that Smollett planned and staged the attack with brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Spokesperson of the Chicago Police Department, tweeted Wednesday, “Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony).”
Guglielmi also confirmed evidence is now being presented to a Cook County grand jury.
Case Update: Jussie Smollett is now officially classified as a suspect in a criminal investigation by #ChicagoPolice for filing a false police report (Class 4 felony). Detectives are currently presenting evidence before a Cook County Grand Jury. pic.twitter.com/FhDcbBKsuU— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 20, 2019
Earlier in the day, CNN reported that Jussie’s attorneys had met with the Cook County prosecutor, and that police are seeking the star’s financial records.
The Osundairo brothers, who had been identified from surveillance video near the scene, were arrested Wednesday and held by police for two days. They were not charged.
CBS 2 reported that Olabinjo and Abimbola were paid $3,500 for their part in the attack. They left for Nigeria the night it happened, and were reportedly supposed to receive another $500 upon their return.
A video obtained by the news station shows the brothers buying items allegedly used in the staged attack, including a red hat and ski masks.
Sources previously told TMZ that the two men have agreed to appear before the grand jury, and have not been subpoenaed.
Olabinjo and Abimbola spoke to CBS 2 exclusively saying, “We are not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens.”
Olabinjo has appeared on “Empire” as an extra. Jussie’s attorneys have also stated that one of the men had worked for the star as a personal trainer.
CBS 2 reports multiple sources claim Jussie was upset that a threatening letter sent to him at FOX Studios in Chicago didn’t get a “bigger reaction,” and that’s why he allegedly staged the attack.
The note, posted by ThatGrapeJuice.net, stated in letters cut out of magazines, “You will die black f**.” The letter was delivered January 22, over a week before the attack. It reportedly included a white powder that turned out to be aspirin.
CBS 2 says Chicago police found a magazine at the Osundairos’ apartment, which was taken as evidence.
On Saturday, Smollett's lawyers told “Extra” in a statement that Jussie was “angered and devastated” by reports he knew the attackers, and that he now feels “further victimized.”