Chicago is moving forward with plans to sue Jussie Smollett over time and money spent investigating what officials say was a staged assault orchestrated by the “Empire” actor, but his attorneys say they will demand that the mayor and police chief testify if the city pursues the matter.
Because Smollett, 36, had refused by Thursday to pay more than $130,000 in reimbursement fees as outlined to him in a March 28 letter, the city will forge ahead with proceedings that could result in a civil trial.
“As part of this legal action, the Law Department will pursue the full measure of damages allowed under the ordinance,” city officials said in an issued statement.
Smollett’s legal team said they would depose Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and others if the city follows through with the suit, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The city can triple the amount originally demanded if someone fails to pay an initial amount, according to Chicago’s municipal code. That means more than $390,000 could be demanded from Smollett.
And, in the event the case is ruled in the city’s favor, if Smollett still refused to pay, his bank accounts could be frozen and his wages garnished.
Smollett, who is Black and gay, insists that he told the truth in reporting that two masked men attacked him in the early hours of Jan. 29 while yelling homophobic slurs and “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America great again” campaign slogan.
He was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for making a false report, but all the charges were dropped on March 26.