Empire star Jussie Smollett has been partying it up on his Hawaii vacation after all charges against him were dropped. However, he might not be in the clear yet. I discuss on America Uncensored.
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Chicago police hit Jussie Smollett with lawsuit during his Hawaii vacation
April 17th, 2019
Stephanie Hamill: Joining me now is Bob Bianchi. He is a Law and Crime Network host and a former Prosecutor, and a Criminal Defense Attorney. Thank you so much for being here. Bob, I know that you’ve been following the Jussie Smollett case, pretty closely. And now Chicago is suing the Empire Star. What are your thoughts on this?
Robert Bianchi: Well, you know Stephanie, when we talked the last time, Jessie Smollett was saying that he was thinking of suing them, which I call laughable and insanity. And my position was that the city of Chicago and the police department should in fact sue him for all the time, money and expense that they went through for the perpetration of this fraud for which Ms. Fox, the District Attorney didn’t have the courtesy to go to her law enforcement partners before she dismissed the case, which was an insult and a slap in the face. And then Jussie Smollett gets out there and still continues to talk about himself as a victim. So, this is the perfect vehicle for the Chicago Police Department and the city of Chicago to say no. Kim Fox. No, Mr. Smollett we’re going to drag you in and we’re going to get depositions and interrogatories and discoveries. And you know why Stephanie? Because on top of the fact that Ms. Fox decided not to let the police know that she was going to dismiss the charges after $170,000 worth of investigation, she also allowed the record to be sealed. So, we the public couldn’t transparently see, although we all knew what she did here was wrong. So good. Now, Mr. Smollett you have your opportunity to tell your story in the civil case. Good for Chicago. Good for the police department.
Stephanie Hamill: Yeah. And really quickly to recap, it was the Cook County Attorney’s office that dropped the 16 charges against the Smollett. They didn’t let the Chicago Police Department know what they were doing. So, the police department was pretty much caught off guard. So now this complaint filed by the city says they’re seeking relief against the defendant for false statements that he made to the city. They’re also seeking recovery of the costs of necessary services provided by the city due to the defendant’s violations of the MCC and in support alleges as follows. So, they went over the nature of the case, they went over the factual allegations, which is a lot of the stuff that we already looked into, like the text messages between the Osundairo brothers and Jussie Smollett the surveillance cameras the night of the alleged attack. And so, where do you, is this unusual, I mean to have a city go after somebody for the expenses and the resources that they use to investigate this case? Does, is Smollett responsible for this, does he have to pay this back? Is this unprecedented?
Robert Bianchi: I wouldn’t say it’s unprecedented, but this whole scenario is a little unusual. What this is, is the Chicago PD and city police department saying that, look, we want the public to understand something here. And it’s very important because it’s been confused when you do what it is that I did. I ran an agency like Ms. Fox. So, let me explain just briefly to answer your question, they had to do an investigation. That investigation was done in conjunction with the Cook County District Attorney’s office, the District Attorney’s office reviewed the police reports that the Chicago PD and their own people came to a conclusion that Mr. Smollett was responsible for this, that he was guilty of this. So, they presented it to a grand jury. That’s the Prosecutors way saying we believe these charges are not only real, but we believe he should be held accountable for them by way of an indictment. So, the fact that the indictment afterwards winds up getting dismissed, well you didn’t even have to bring the charges. You don’t have to bring it into the grand jury. If you believe that that was the ultimately proper resolution of this case, then you could have dismissed it way before went that far. Now remember the District Attorney’s office here isn’t saying that he didn’t do it. What they’re saying is they believe that this was the appropriate way to resolve this case, which is laughable. So, in this laughable situation, the police department was left, if you will, with its pants pulled down. They were getting kicked in the teeth by the District Attorney’s failure to back them up with respect to this case. So, in my opinion, this lawsuit is filed. The let the public know we had the goods. The problem isn’t with us. The problem is with Ms. Fox and that’s why this lawsuit is filed in addition to the $170,000 or $130,000 whatever it is. Although that is unusual that police would sue. They’re suing here mainly in my opinion, to let the public know the truth.
Stephanie Hamill: Well, and this complaint, they said they spent over 1800 hours of overtime investigating this case. They also spent $130,000 in overtime pay. That’s just overtime. We don’t know how much exactly they’re looking for, but like you said, I think that they’re trying to clear their name because there was question, there are some out there and our country who believe that the Chicago police department did something dirty here that they tried to frame Smollett in this alleged hate hoax when the evidence suggest otherwise, and there’s mountains of evidence if you will. Meantime, TMZs reporting that Jussie Smollett is in Hawaii on vacation. There’s video of it. He’s smiling and he’s laughing. He’s having a great time. If you were him, would you be having a good time right now? Isn’t this this complaint in this lawsuit going to open up a can of worms for him?
Robert Bianchi: If I were him, I don’t answer questions like that because if I were him, I wouldn’t have been in this situation. If I were him, I would with all the fame and popularity I wouldn’t. I would need to contrive a story, if I were him, I wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff. But yeah, he’s got concerns here because the FBI is investigating this case still as well because allegedly, and it’s an allegation, he sent the letter to himself, so he used the mails, which makes it a federal offense to basically send a letter to himself saying, I’m coming after you. I’m attacking you. In other words, part of this whole continuing forward and you know what Stephanie, listen, if the guy was innocent, if the guy is not guilty of these charges, that’s fine. I’m not saying that, but what happened here was the Prosecutor themselves said that they’re not saying he’s innocent or that he’s not guilty. Rather what they’re saying is that they believe that this was a just way of resolving this case and you know what? All the district or all the defense lawyers in Cook County should be lining up like we all are here in New Jersey and New York and saying to the Prosecutors, hey, can we get a smaller deal for our clients too? Can we, can we get a dismissal and a sealing of the record? You know, one of the things that’s really insidious here, Stephanie, I’ll end with my rant here, is that what he did is deprecate lesson weaken bias intimidation and racial hate crime laws that are there for real victims of these things. Because of guys like him now, when another one happens that may be real causes people to say, well, maybe that’s a Smollett too.
Stephanie Hamill: How do you get out of this civil suit if you’re Smollett too? So, they filed the complaint. Now what happens? Would he have the option to just pay what the police department wants and just end this whole thing? Because the Chicago police department had already reached out, I believe with a letter saying that they wanted their, their money back at what the city had spent. And then Smollett’s attorney said that they were like offended and they weren’t going to pay the money. So now that’s why we got to this point. So, is there a way for Smollett to kind of just like push this under the rug and kind of forget about it?
Robert Bianchi: Stephanie, I haven’t read the whole complaint, but here’s my sense of something that you had read to me previously, if he pays the money, if they were only looking for monetary damages and he pays the money, he may be able to get out of the case. But I believe they’re suing him for more. I think they’re suing him for false statements he made about the department and false statements that he made during the course of the case. So that would be that it’s just more than monetary damages, i.e. 130 or $170,000 for covering all those expenses that they put when they put out there, the police department, because they were trying to catch a hate crime guy. I think that they’re going to basically, in my opinion, in my opinion, twist him so that he has to give a deposition so that they can prove maybe, potentially that he is in fact responsible for this and keep something in mind, Stephanie. It’s nuance, but it’s important because he’s still within the statute of limitations for filing a criminal charge. Anything he says in the civil case could develop further evidence that could implicate him in the criminal case. So as a lawyer that’s handled these kinds of scenarios before, well we typically tell clients to do, that’s in Smollett’s position is assert your right to remain silent in the civil case so they can’t gather evidence against you. And if he does that, he very well may cause a default, which means the city wins or at trial the jury is advised he refused to participate in his defense. He’s in a real check mate scenario.
Stephanie Hamill: And what about the Osundairo brothers? They’re, they’re the ones who admitted to committing this alleged hate crime. There was the video camera footage of them, the surveillance video of them at like a gas station or something, buying all of the materials used in this alleged hate hoax. So, what happens to them? I’ve been trying to find out where he is you think that these reporters in Chicago or the New York Times would, you know, dispatch and reporters out to, to the city to find out what the brothers are up to? TMZ was reporting that the brothers are still selling personal training online and I mean, are they just off scot free or have we even heard it Smollett attorney say that the, the, they know who committed the hate crime. So, are these dangerous guys or what happens with them?
Speaker 2: Well, I mean they were cooperating with the police department and it’s clear, at least from the facts that I know of this case, that they were the individuals that were caught, you know, on that video tape. So, if Mr. Smollett was in fact not guilty if he in fact, had not done this fraud or this scam, if he, in fact it’s innocent, quote unquote, although the prosecutor didn’t say that, but if that’s his argument, then those two guys should be locked up because they committed a crime. Come on, let’s be real. There isn’t, they’re not going to get arrested just because the police and prosecutors understand that was all a scam between all of them.
Stephanie Hamill: If you were the victim of a hate crime, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure that the attackers, you know, were sent to jail?
Robert Bianchi: Of course, but, but these are people that he works with. I mean it’s ludicrous to even talk about this being hate crime because we all know what happened here. Of course, he’s not going to be looking for the attackers because there are none. It was a setup. It was orchestrated. It’s a fraud, it’s a sham. So, there’s nothing to look for.
Stephanie Hamill: Yeah. And again, people are downplaying the saying, oh, well it’s not a big deal. Let’s move on. But it is a big deal because this whole alleged hate hoax. I mean at the end of the day; this was to smear Trump supporters. Smollett had told police officers it was white men who said something about this is Magda country and this is, this is a big deal. And it was also a smear on the President and now a smear on the Chicago police department. So, I think that we deserve some answers.
Robert Bianchi: Yeah, listen, as a guy who ran an agency and was instrumental in helping pass bias and hate crime legislation, again, I say they deprecated the value of that for real people who are being victimized. And this is a problem in our country, there are people that are being victimized. So, we as Prosecutors want to bring valuable and legitimate cases and punish them to end the conduct when somebody cries, rape, that wasn’t raped. When somebody cries hate crime that wasn’t hate crime, when somebody says the cops beat them when the cops didn’t, or the cops, you have lessened, lessened, a very serious societal problem that we do have when we try to eradicate those very things for true and real victims here. So, and also let’s not forget, does our country really need in this time of division, somebody faking something that even divides us further. All he did is give fodder to those who don’t believe in hate crime legislation and race, race related issues, the ability to say, you see, this is why we shouldn’t have these laws. It’s, it’s a shame.