The drama involving Jussie Smollett has finally come to an end. The actor will have to spend five months in prison over what the judge called a "disgraceful" plan to stage a hate crime.
After the judge made the ruling, the actor started shouting in protest: "I'm innocent!" He went on to claim that if he had made up the story, he would have admitted to his guilt long ago.
As the actor shouted, he was put in handcuffs and taken into custody. He cautioned that he did not fake the hate crime, and so if anything happened to him while he was in custody, it would not be his fault.
Judge James Linn gave the actor a chance to speak before the sentence, but Smollet had nothing to say. Due to their intention to appeal the court's ruling, the actor's lawyer, Nenye Uche, had advised Smollet not to speak.
The judge gave a lengthy statement and admonished the actor for faking being a hate crime victim. As soon as he learned that he would be going to jail, Smollett began shouting, suggesting that there was a conspiracy against him.
Smollet shouted, saying that he was not suicidal and that he was innocent of the charges that had been made against him:
"If I did this, then it means that I shoved my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community."
He argued that he had respect for the judge and the judgment he had made against him while insisting that he was not suicidal.
The judge gave Smollett 30 months of probation. However, he would have to spend the first five months in Cook County jail.
He was also ordered to pay $120,000 to the city of Chicago as restitution and an additional $25,000 as a fine because he had been found guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct.
While delivering the sentence, the judge called Smollett a disgrace and referred to his performance during the trial as "pure perjury."
The judge said that Smollett was not a victim of either race or homophobic hate crime but was just a charlatan posing as a victim of hate crime.
The judge also told the actor that he had seen another side of him that was "profoundly arrogant and selfish and narcissistic." He pointed out that this ugly side had emerged during the trial.
Linn claimed that Smollett had committed "hour upon hour upon hour of pure perjury" while on the witness stand. He said that the actor's name had become an adverb for lying, which was the worst thing the judge could imagine.
When Smollett was being taken from the courtroom, his legal team desperately tried to make oral motions challenging the ruling. The judge declined them all.
In his statement, the judge said:
"The wheels of justice turn slowly sometimes, the hammer of justice has to fall and it's falling right here, right now."
The felony charges for which Smollett was found guilty can have someone spend three years at most in prison. Experts felt that it was unlikely that he would end up in jail since he has a mostly clean criminal record.
The charges he was facing were also non-violent, which would work in his favor.
Unfortunately, he made his case weaker by choosing to take the stand during the trial. He gave five hours of testimony over two days.
During his cross-examination by Dan Webb, he got defensive and combative at times. He insisted that there was no hoax, as the defense tried to prove.
The other complication in the case was that the crime was premeditated, as determined by the court. Judge Linn felt that the actor had stolen resources from legitimate hate crime victims and pointed out that his lies would have an impact on future hate crime cases:
"Hate crimes are the absolute worst and I believe you did damage to real hate crime victims. There are people who are actual genuine victims of hate crimes that you did damage to."
The ruling comes more than three years after the Empire actor allegedly asked two men to "fake beat him up," tie a noose around his neck, pour bleach on him, and then shout racist and homophobic slurs. The staged drama took place on a street corner close to his apartment.
According to the former Chicago Police Department chief, Smollett had orchestrated the hoax to get a raise as an Empire cast member.
The judge disagreed with that argument and claimed that all the actor wanted was attention and a "national pity party."
The judge told the actor that he knew hate was a sore spot for Americans, so he staged the crime. Judge Linn accused Smollett of taking some scabs off some healing wounds just to make himself famous.
In doing so, the judge felt that Smollett was incredibly selfish. Judge Linn also asked judge asked the actor why he would betray social justice issues that mean so much to him.
Before the judge delivered the sentence, the court listened to statements from Smollett's relatives and heard letters from his supporters. His fans asked the judge to impose a light sentence that did not involve any jail time.
The letters focused on the actor's passion for social justice and his history of giving back to society.
Linn pointed out that the actor grew up knowing he had to show sensitivity towards issues touching on racial discrimination:
"He's been doing this all his life. He doesn't just talk the talk, he's walking the walk."
For this reason, the judge found it particularly hypocritical of him to get convicted of faking racial and homophobic hate crimes. The judge told Smollett that he knew better than anyone else that these were serious matters he was playing around with.