Embattled actor Jussie Smollett’s past transgressions are coming back to haunt him at the most inopportune time.
The “Empire” star previously gave false information to police when he was busted for drunk driving just more than a decade ago, CNN reports. This information comes to light as Smollett is currently being accused by Chicago police of orchestrating and funding a fake attack against himself.
The U.S. Department of Justice is also looking into whether he mailed hate letters to himself. As is customary, the FBI neither confirms nor denies an active investigation.
Smollett, who was 25 at the time of his earlier arrest, was slapped with charges of false impersonation after giving police his 18-year-old brother Jake’s name to authorities during the DUI stop in Los Angeles. Smollett even reportedly signed his younger brother’s name on the promise that he would appear in court.
After having his lie uncovered by authorities and appearing in court, Smollett pleaded no contest to three misdemeanors in total from the incident, driving under the influence and operating a vehicle without a license. The judge gave Smollett two years of probation, a fine and orders to complete an alcohol education and treatment program in May 2008.
Smollett’s criminal history becomes relevant as the actor, now 36, is widely believed by the police and many in the public sphere to have masterminded a fake beatdown in late January.
As rolling out previously reported, Smollett said he was assaulted in Chicago on January 29 by two men wearing ski masks. Smollett told police he had just arrived in the Windy City from New York and made a late-night run to a Subway when someone yelled: “Aren’t you that f—— ‘Empire’ n—–?!” He claimed the two attackers then jumped him, put a rope around his neck and poured bleach on him.
A month later, the Chicago Police Department reportedly believes Smollett paid Nigerian brothers, identified as Ola and Abel Osundairo, to stage an attack on him. According to published reports, the brothers — who are bodybuilders and extras on the show “Empire” — said they know Smollett and that they have worked out with him. They reportedly are holed up in a secret location as they continue to cooperate with authorities.
Smollett maintains his innocence, and family members have expressed their outrage that he is being victimized twice because the veracity of his story is being questioned.
Because Smollett has not made himself readily available to Chicago law enforcement authorities to answer follow-up questions, his case is being fast-tracked to a grand jury. According to TMZ, “the focus is presenting evidence that could lead to a felony indictment against Jussie for allegedly filing a false police report.”