Jussie Smollett’s legal troubles might not be over yet.
A prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped all 16 felony charges against the former “Empire” star on Tuesday, sparking mass bewilderment and deep frustration from Chicago Police and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who say the mountain of evidence against him could easily have convicted him of staging a fake attack and lying to police.
Prosecutor Joe Magats actually admitted that he believes Smollett is guilty of lying, but he stands by his decision to only slap the actor with 16 hours of community service and make him forfeit the $10,000 bond he paid to the city of Chicago. He’s also clearing Smollett’s record and having a judge seal the case.
And according to Fox News, Smollett “could never be charged in relation to the alleged hoax ever again.”
However, the actor could still face federal charges.
The FBI has been investigating a threatening letter filled with white powder that Smollett claims was sent to him eight days before the attack. If the actor sent himself that letter, he could be in huge trouble.
"If he mailed that threatening letter to himself by using the post office, he engaged in postal fraud. That's five to 10 years in jail...if the feds want to go there,” legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano told Fox News.
Smollett could also get hit with civil lawsuits. Or he could file some of his own.
Criminal defense attorney Alaleh Kamran told People, “At this point all that’s happened is the state is telling us they’re not going to prosecute him on criminal charges, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be civil lawsuits going both ways. Jussie can sue the complaining witnesses; the complaining witnesses can sue him.”
“I’m sure there will be lawsuits because there’s damages,” she continued. “Jussie’s career has been destroyed, his name and reputation has been dragged through the mud. I would be surprised if he does not pull some kind of civil action to, at the minimum, clear his name.”
Kamran’s prediction of civil lawsuits may already be coming true.
According to a Fox News report, Emanuel is considering suing Smollett in order to recover the cost of over 1,000 hours of police work in investigating the actor’s claim.
“This $10,000 [from Jussie’s bond] doesn’t even come close to what this city spent in resources to actually look over the camera [footage], gather all the data, gather all the information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury on many, many, multiple different charges,” the livid mayor exclaimed during a Tuesday press conference.
Tina Glandian, one of Smollett’s lawyers, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday that the actor is considering a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department.
Asked by Stephanopoulos if her legal team was going to sue, Glandian replied, “We’re weighing our options now. For Jussie, what’s important is he really just wants his career and his life back. Again, he did not ask for any of this. He was a victim of a crime.”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Police union has called for a Justice Department investigation into the prosecutor’s decision.
This is not all over yet. Not by a longshot.