CHICAGO – The two brothers who police say were paid by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to stage a fake hate crime said Friday they regret their involvement.
Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo’s attorney, Gloria Schmidt, told FOX News, “My clients have tremendous regret over their involvement in this situation, and they understand how it has impacted people across the nation, particularly minority communities and especially those who have been victims of hate crimes themselves.”
Smollett reported to police that he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29. The actor, who is black and gay, said the masked men beat him, made derogatory comments and yelled “This is MAGA country” – an obvious reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” – before fleeing.
Nevertheless, police concluded his story was a hoax—it didn’t occur as he claimed.
Smollett is now accused of filing a false police report. Moreover, he was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct. He is currently out of custody on $100,000 bond. He faces a maximum prison sentence of three years.
According to the Chicago Police Department, Smollett paid the Osundairo brothers via check to participate in a “phony attack” in order to take “advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.”
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a press conference last month that police found the “check that [Smollett] used to pay [two brothers]” to fake the beating, adding he paid them $3,500 “for the two of them in total, and then $500 upon return.”
He said the attack “was staged, the brothers had on gloves during the (air quotes) ‘staged attack’ where they punched him a little, but as far as we can tell, the scratching and bruising that you saw on [Smollett’s] face was most likely self-inflicted.”
Smollett’s legal counsel told FOX News after the actor was accused of filing the fake police report that the nation “witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system.
“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” his team continued.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
The brothers were initially held for nearly 48 hours on suspicion of assaulting Smollett. Police said one of the men had worked on “Empire,” and Smollett’s attorneys said one of the men is the actor’s personal trainer, whom he hired to help get him physically ready for a music video. The actor released his debut album, “Sum of My Music,” last year.
According the their attorney, the two men testified for about two and a half hours before the grand jury last month.
“There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up and they said we’re going to correct this,” Schmidt said at the time.
She said her clients did not care about a plea deal or immunity. “You don’t need immunity when you have the truth,” she said.
She also said her clients received money from Smollett, but she did not elaborate.
Smollett’s prior criminal record involves providing false information to police when he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence. According to records, he was also charged with false impersonation and driving without a license. He later pleaded no contest to a reduced charge and took an alcohol education and treatment program.