The city of Chicago has filed a lawsuit against Jussie Smollett after the Empire actor refused to reimburse police for overtime costs related to his investigation.
City officials had sent Smollett a bill for $130,106.15 in overtime costs that were incurred after he claimed to have been the victim of a violent hate crime, only to be charged with lying to police and orchestrating the attack himself.
But according to the city's code, Chicago could win up to three times that amount if they are successful in their suit against the actor, who they claim filed the false report and concocted the fake attack.
Smollett was eventually indicted by a grand jury on 16 counts, including filing a false police report. The charges, however, were suddenly dropped on March 26 by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, which cited Smollett’s lack of danger to the public, his community service, and forfeiture of $10,000 in bail.
A spokesperson for Chicago’s Department of Law said Smollett refused to reimburse the city, and attorneys for the city filed a civil lawsuit against the Empire actor Thursday, roughly a week after announcing their intent to do so.
“As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance," Bill McCaffrey, a spokesperson for the department, said in a statement last week.
According to the city ordinance, anyone who files a false report can face a $500 fee, plus “up to three times the amount of damages the city sustains,” including court, collection, and attorney costs.
An attorney for Smollett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The city has used the ordinance in the past to go after people who filed false reports, including a 64-year-old doctor who alleged he was robbed and stabbed. He later pleaded guilty to having stabbed himself.
In that case, however, the doctor admitted to having filed the false report as part of his plea agreement.
Smollett has maintained, even after charges against him were dropped, that he has been truthful about the attack, which he said involved two masked men assaulting him while shouting anti-gay slurs and putting a rope around his neck.