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Jussie Smollett’s Plan for Alleged Hate Crime Hoax Outlined by Prosecutors

Empire star Jussie Smollett was released from police custody on $100,000 bond after a hearing Thursday (February 21) in which Cook County prosecutors presented a timeline of the days leading up to the actor’s allegedly staged attack on January 29.

Prosecutors claim Smollett first raised the idea of staging a hate crime to brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo on January 25. Abel, who worked as a stand-in for Toby Onwumere’s Empire character Kai, allegedly socialized and exercised with Smollett and dealt him ecstasy. According to prosecutors, Smollett detailed his plan to the brothers while in his car parked outside their apartment: He wanted Ola and Abel to wear red hats and black masks, “attack him, but not hurt him too badly,” call him homophobic and racial slurs, yell “This is MAGA country,” place a rope around his neck, and pour gasoline on his head.

During this conversation, prosecutors claim, Smollett gave the brothers a $100 bill that they used on January 28 to obtain supplies from two stores whose security cameras documented the purchases.

Prosecutors say Smollett also picked up the brothers from their apartment on January 27 and brought them to the location near his apartment where he wanted the attack to take place. Smollett allegedly pointed out a security camera that he believed would capture the assault (the altercation ultimately occurred outside the camera’s view), scheduled the attack for 10 p.m. ET on January 28, changed the plan to feature bleach instead of gasoline, then drove the brothers home and signed a $3,500 check made out to Abel.

Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson has claimed that Smollett staged the attack because he was “dissatisfied with his salary.” According to the account presented in court, Smollett planned the alleged hoax around the Osundairo brothers’ trip to Nigeria on January 29, which they had scheduled two months prior. Smollett allegedly communicated with Abel about the plan via phone calls and text messages throughout the days leading up to the attack.

Smollett turned himself over to police Thursday morning after he was indicted Wednesday night on a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He has denied lying about the attack and his attorneys have stated they plan to “mount an aggressive defense.” If convicted, Smollett faces up to three years in prison.

Read prosecutors’ full account of this very strange story below.