Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty To 16 Counts Of Disorderly Conduct

Jussie Smollett arrives at court where he pleaded not guilty

"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett is expected to plead not guilty Thursday to charges accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago.

Earlier this morning, trial Judge Steven Watkins was assigned to the case and to conduct this morning's arraignment.

"Yes, sir", Smollett said in a soft voice as the judge instructed him that he would next return to court on April 12. Prosecutors said one had supplied Smollett with "designer drugs" in the past. Smollett's legal team entered the plea Thursday at a courthouse in Chicago, while the Empire actor and singer looked on silently.

The actor was arrested February 21, and police said at a media briefing that Smollett had faked the attack because he was "dissatisfied" with his salary for playing Jamal Lyon on "Empire".

According to prosecutors, Smollett wrote a $3,500 check to two brothers and gave them $100 to buy the rope, ski masks, gloves and red baseball caps used in the supposed January 29 attack.

A week before the alleged attack, Smollett told authorities he received a threatening letter at work.

Jussie Smollett in his police booking
CHICAGO POLICEJussie Smollett in his police booking

Smollett will be allowed to travel to NY and California to meet with his lawyers as long as he notifies the court 48 hours ahead of time.

In a statement, Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos said while the indictment was "not unexpected".

Cameras were allowed in the courtroom Thursday, though there was no live feed of the proceedings. Each of the 16 counts against him covers various alleged acts that Smollett falsely described to the officers-including that he was hit by two men, that they yelled racial and homophobic slurs and poured a chemical on him.

Fox cut Smollett's character in "Empire" after he was arrested. Several people could be heard chanting "We are here today to support black people", "We are here today to support LGBTQ people" and "Justice for Jussie" as the actor arrived and walked into the building wearing a dark gray coat and sunglasses.

"Jussie has been a person of high caliber and character".

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