Jussie Smollett reportedly paid two men to orchestrate attack
Chicago police now believe “Empire” TV actor Jussie Smollett paid two pals to fake the attack that he has insisted was carried out by a pair of homophobic and racist strangers, according to a stunning new report.
The buddies — body-builder brothers from Nigeria— told cops they purchased the rope for the noose recovered from Smollett’s neck after the attack, Fox’s Chicago affiliate reported Saturday night, citing multiple Chicago law-enforcement sources.
The two are cooperating with the probe, and have turned over to cops the Ace Hardware receipt for their purchase of the rope, Fox 32 reported.
The brothers are models and actors Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, and both have worked as extras on the TV series and use the same gym as Smollett.
The two had been arrested as persons of interest Wednesday, but were released without charges on Friday after agreeing to ‘fess up — or face battery charges, the station reported.
Meanwhile, investigators are eager to speak again with Smollett, who has lawyered up, the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday.
Police told the paper that they’ve reached out to the star’s legal team to request an interview.
Smollett has at least three lawyers: Todd Pugh, Victor P. Henderson, and Michael Monico, a high-powered criminal attorney who also reps Michael Cohen, the former lawyer for Donald Trump.
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On Saturday night, Pugh and Henderson issued a statement on Smollett’s behalf, downplaying the actor’s friendship with the brothers and insisting that his client is a hate crime victim.
“Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the lawyers said, according to ABC reporter Joshua Hoyos.
“At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”
Smollett’s account of being attacked — given first to cops, and then in interviews with magazines and on national television — had been vivid and terrifying.
The 36-year-old openly gay actor, who plays singer-songwriter Jamal Lyno on the hit Fox series, told cops he’d just left a Subway restaurant on Jan. 29, early Tuesday morning, when two thugs approached.
“Empire!” he said they yelled as they recognized him.
When he ignored them, the two began shouting homophobic slurs, then started beating him in the face, he said.
At one point they poured what cops called “a chemical substance” on him, likely bleach, he said. Then one fixed a noose around the actor’s neck, he claimed.
“This is MAGA country, n——!” he told ABC’s Good Morning America the attackers shouted.
“I come really, really hard againist [Trump’s] administration,” he explained in the Feb. 14 interview of being singled out for the attack.
He also said the attackers were likely white.
Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” OsundairoInstagram
“It feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more,” he said.
Messages of support began pouring in on social media from Smollett’s fans, co-stars and even politicians.
Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris termed the assault a “an attempted modern day lynching” in a tweet that by Saturday night had garnered a slew of snarky responses.
“Ready to retract this statement?” tweeted @Ollie—Derp.
Doubts arose quickly after the alleged attack.
Neighbors told The Post that such an incident would be highly uncharacteristic for the area.
And Chicago police said Smollett stalled in turning over cell phone records that would have verified his account of having been on the phone with his manager when he was jumped.
Even Smollett’s decision to tell his “attack” story again and again in the media raised suspicion.
Smollett was quickly “adamant” that he wanted to be on TV, said one source with knowledge of the GMA booking decision.
“When Kim Kardashian was the victim of that horrific burglary in Paris, she went to ground, she closed down, she gave no interviews for months. You can see how shaken she was.
“But Jussie was adamant that he wanted TV right away. He raised his voice and said, ‘I need to do this right now. I’m a black gay man and people need to know what happened to me. I want to tell my story.’ He wanted media right away.”
Then, last Wednesday, the brothers were linked to the video and arrested — and the case began to fall apart.
Smollett had insisted on GMA that the then-unidentified, shadowy figures on the video were the masked, racist “strangers” who attacked him.
But Chicago police realized the two men on the video are Abel and Ola — Smollett’s close friends.
“The two suspects released yesterday were, in fact, on the scene and in the surveillance image,” police spokeswoman Jessica Rocco told The Post Saturday.
“Information received from the brothers during the interview process have in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation,” said another Chicago police spokesperson, Christine Calace, without offering more details.
Reports first surfaced Thursday that cops were investigating claims that the attack was staged to keep Smollett from being written off the show — a theory the actor has denied.
“At first, it was the thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth, then that’s because it’s the truth. Then it became a thing of, like, how can you doubt that? How can you not believe that? It’s the truth,” Smollett had insisted on “GMA.”
Via Page Six
My view: If Jossie Smollett was seriously attacked, he probably won't be able to speak for few days. After watching his interview with ABC, I don't believe him at all. I have never seen someone who has been attacked remember every detail word for word from A-Z . Also he's more concerned about the camera pointing in another direction. He is a very good actor, the way and manner he told the ABC anchor his own side of the story is very good acting and over the top, believable but it is obvious that he is allegedly lying. I am not convinced at all. Those Nigerian guys are the ones giving their country bad names, I don't get why they were involved in the alleged fabricated mess. Josie is very cute, I'm sure he'll get offers if his Empire role is slashed.