“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett pleaded not guilty in a Chicago courtroom Thursday to 16 charges stemming from an alleged hate crime hoax.
Smollett’s lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the plea on Smollett’s behalf just hours after Judge Steven Watkins was assigned the case. The next court date was scheduled for April 17.
Smollett was initially charged with one count of lying to the authorities on Feb. 20. Last week, a grand jury indicted Smollett on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities — eight counts for what he told the officer who responded to the report of the Jan. 29 attack in downtown Chicago, and eight counts for what he later told a detective about being the victim of a brutal racist and homophobic beating by two masked men.
Empire actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for his hearing on Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Chicago. (AP)
Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the incident because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox show and wanted to promote his career. – READ MORE