Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail on Thursday for orchestrating a fake racist and homophobic attack against himself and lying to the police about it. Along with the jail time, Smollett was also given 30 months of probation and fines of over $120,000.
Smollett could have faced a maximum of up to 15 years in prison.
Judge James Linn handed down his sentence, then he asked the actor if he had any questions.
Smollett replied, “Your Honor—I would just like to say to Your Honor that I am not suicidal. I am not suicidal. I am not suicidal. I am innocent. And I am not suicidal.”
The judge responded, “Okay.”
The Empire actor than stood up and proclaimed, “If I did this, then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years, and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Your Honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”
Judge Linn told Smollett “There is nothing any sentencing judge can do that can compare to the damage you’ve already done to yourself.”
Linn said he believed that the actor hadn’t done it for the money, but rather “to make yourself more famous.”
Earlier in the day, prosecutors had argued for a stiff penalty because Smollett was uncooperative with investigators, refusing to provide a DNA sample, and had not performed “a single act of contrition” to date.
The Chicago Police Department spent over $130,000 investigating the fake crime.
Smollett’s defense team told Judge Linn that such a sentence was “almost like a death sentence”, given the rates of coronavirus in prison populations.
Last December, a jury found Smollett guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct. Smollett had reported a hate crime to police that prosecutors said never occurred. In 2019, the black and gay actor claimed that two men in ski masks and MAGA hats beat him in the middle of the night during bitterly cold weather. Smollett claimed that his attackers doused him in bleach and put a noose around his neck.
But during the trial, two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, said Smollett paid them to stage the incident. They admitted that Smollett had paid for the hats they wore, and told them to shout “This is MAGA country,” referring to President Trump’s campaign slogan.
Prosecutors said Smollett was motivated by a desire to bolster his name recognition.
Smollett’s role was written out of Empire last year, after his arrest.
The defense lawyers promised to appeal the case.