The city of Chicago wants Jussie Smollett to pay more than $130,000 to help cover the cost of the police investigation into claims that he was the victim of a violent hate crime.
Smollett faced more than a dozen charges for allegedly filing a false police report, but his criminal case was suddenly dropped Tuesday by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
After the surprise move, Smollett told reporters he has been truthful about the January allegation, while prosecutors and police officials insisted the evidence was clear that the Empire actor staged the whole thing to gain public sympathy for career gain.
On Thursday, the city sent a letter to Smollett’s attorney seeking $130,106.15 for overtime costs incurred during the investigation.
“The city feels this is a legal and reasonable amount to offset the costs of the investigation,” Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for the city’s legal office, told BuzzFeed News on Thursday.
The city wants the amount paid within seven days.
Smollett's attorneys, meanwhile, are pushing back on the city’s attempt to recoup costs.
“It is the mayor and the police chief who owe Jussie — owe him an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud,” his attorneys said in a written statement to BuzzFeed News. “Jussie has paid enough.”
According to the city’s municipal code, anyone who makes a false report can face a $500 fine “plus up to three times the amount of damages the City sustains as a result of the violation.” Under the law, the city can seek to recover “court costs, collection costs, and attorney’s fees.”
City officials used that provision to recuperate costs in investigating another false report in 2011, where a prominent Iowa doctor claimed to have been robbed and stabbed on the city’s Riverwalk.
The doctor later admitted to having faked the attack and stabbing himself.
In that case, however, the 64-year-old doctor had eventually agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct for filing the false report, admitting his role in the stabbing.
Smollett, on the other hand, has maintained in public statements that he has been truthful about the attack, pitting city leaders and the actor against each other in a public confrontation of conflicting accounts.
According to the letter sent to Smollett, the police department used more than two dozen detectives and officers to investigate the actor’s initial claims.
“Ultimately, the Chicago police investigation revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your own attack,” the letter states.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had told WGN Radio on Thursday morning of the city’s intent to bill the actor, adding that “there’s a whole other level of ethical costs, because he’s still walking around, ‘Hey, I’m innocent, everything I said from day one is true.’”
Smollett claimed two men attacked him on Jan. 29 while yelling racist and anti-gay slurs and pouring a bleachlike liquid on him. He also said they put a rope around his head and at one point yelled, “This is MAGA country!”
But police and prosecutors alleged Smollett paid two brothers, both actors who had worked with Smollett in the past, $3,500 to stage the attack.
Smollett was at one point facing 16 criminal charges in the case after being indicted by a grand jury.
But prosecutors released a statement Tuesday, pointing to Smollett’s community service and his agreement to forfeit his $10,000 jail bond payment as factors in their decision to drop the criminal case, even while standing by the findings of the police investigation.
After the charges were dropped, Smollett told reporters outside the courtroom that he had been “truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.”