The decision to drop all charges against Jussie Smollett earlier this week shocked many, including authorities in Chicago. While the president is claiming federal authorities will soon look into the decision in coming weeks, the Chicago government is seeking $130,000 from the Empire actor to cover costs of the investigation into his contested hate crime claims.
According to TMZ, The Chicago Corporation Counsel released a letter delivered to Smollett that demands the actor immediately pay back "$130,106.15" for the police investigation within one week.
"Over two dozen detectives and police officers participated in the investigation, ultimately spending weeks investigating your false claims," the letter alleges. "The Chicago police investigation revealed that you knowingly filed a false police report and had in fact orchestrated your own attack."
The letter continues to threaten that if Smollett does not pay by the deadline, the city will "prosecute" the actor for making a false statement "under the Municipal Code of Chicago." This would be far different from the charges that were just dropped against Smollett and he would face no jail time. Instead, the city could seek three times the actual damages — more than $390,000 according to TMZ — and could see a judge or jury finding that Smollett is guilty of faking the attack.
Smollett responded through a spokesperson according to TMZ.
"It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie an apology for dragging an innocent man's character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough," the statement reads.
After charges were dropped, Smollett surrendered the $10,000 bond for his release while his legal team noted that no deal had been made, prosecutors had just dropped the charges.
"Jussie and many others were hurt by these unfair and unwarranted actions. This entire situation is a reminder that there should never be an attempt to prove a case in the court of public opinion," Smollett's lawyers said after the news broke. "It is a reminder that a victim, in this case Jussie, deserves dignity and respect. Dismissal of charges against the victim in this case was the only just result."
The Cook County State Attorney's Office later detailed their decision and refuted some of the claims made by Smollett's legal team.
"We stand behind the Chicago Police Department's investigation and our decision to approve charges in this case. We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett," the statement from the office said. "The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. Without the completion of these terms, the charges would not have been dropped."
According to Entertainment Tonight, the community service was never ordered by the court and prosecutors had reached out to Smollett's defense team two weeks prior to the charges being dropped. All parties agreed that the charges needed to be dropped according to ET's source.
The Chicago police were reportedly blindsided by the decision and called it "insulting" and an "absolute travesty." Smollett continues to maintain innocence in the situation.