Jussie Smollett will return to acting and activism, a friend says

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Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett is looking to revive his career after serving every sentence last year for lying to the police.

On Thursday, the former “Empire” star faces a maximum of 15 years behind bars at his sentencing hearing in a Chicago courtroom. Smollett, 39, was found guilty in January 2019 on five of six counts of disorderly conduct of orchestrating a hate crime to boost his career. Any charge of a Class 4 felony carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.

“He wants to get it over with,” said Tom Wilson, a Cleveland-based investor who told the Post he’s known Smollett for 15 years.

If the verdict goes well, Smollett will return to film work, Wilson added.

Prior to the trial, Wilson and Smollett were working on the production of B-Boy Blues, an adaptation of the 1991 novel by James Earl Hardy. The film would be Smollett’s directorial debut. The “Empire” actor is also keen to return to his charity work, Wilson added.

Smollett (center, on “Empire”) allegedly staged the attack to advance his career because, according to court documents, he was “unsatisfied” with his salary on the show.
FOX via Getty Images

“Jussie was the first to volunteer and got all sorts of medical and other supplies [the Haitian town of] Jacmel during the earthquake,” said Wilson, who said he first met Smollett at a charity event in 2006. Both later worked to help victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

“In 2018 he organized a tour of Europe and donated all proceeds to charity,” Wilson said of Smollett.

Wilson declined to give further details on how the actor will restart his career until after the sentencing hearing, but claims Smollett was made a scapegoat for the ills of Cook County’s justice system, which has long faced allegations of corruption .

Smollett was found guilty of five out of six counts of disorderly conduct for orchestrating a hate crime and telling police he was beaten up by admirers of President Trump in January 2019 to boost his career.
Smollett was found guilty of orchestrating a hate crime and telling police he was beaten by admirers of President Donald Trump in January 2019.
Chicago Police Department via Getty Images

“Putting a guy like Dan Webb in charge is ridiculous,” said Wilson, who believes Cook County overdid it in assigning the case to the famous attorney who has prosecuted corruption cases in Chicago and was a special counsel during Iran-Contra case 1990.

In a recent podcast, Webb said he agreed to take the case pro bono, in part to restore the integrity of Cook County’s justice system.

“Public confidence needs to be restored,” he said. “I get so angry when I see Talking Heads on Fox and CNN shooting at this city.”

Last month, Smollett's legal team filed a motion to either vacate his guilty verdict or hold a new trial.
Last month, Smollett’s legal team filed a motion to either vacate his guilty verdict or hold a new trial.
Kevin C Downs

Last month, Smollett’s legal team filed a motion to either vacate his guilty verdict or hold a new trial, citing a violation of his constitutional rights and a litany of errors during the prosecution phase. They claim the case was used as a “lightning rod for the political divisions plaguing the country.”

“If justice is justice, he doesn’t even get sentenced to a day in prison,” Wilson said.

Before his arrest, Smollett was an integral part of the Hollywood charity circles. According to the group’s public tax returns, since 2015 he has served on the board of directors of the Black AIDS Institute, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles. Smollett left the group in 2019, the same year he was accused of orchestrating his own hate crime.

According to court documents, Smollett paid two Nigerian-born brothers, Abimbola (left) and Olabinjo Osundairo, to stage an assault on him.
According to court documents, Smollett paid two Nigerian-born brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, to carry out an assault on him.
AP (2)

The actor paid two Nigerian-born brothers to stage an assault on him to further his career because he was “unsatisfied with his salary on ‘Empire’,” according to court documents. He gave them a script of homophobic and racist slurs to deliver during the fake hits.

Wilson said Smollett looks forward to getting his life back.

director and "rich" Creator Lee Daniels (insert) shared a screenshot showing Jussie Smollett's injuries sustained during an alleged hate crime.
Director and Empire creator Lee Daniels (insert) shared a screenshot showing Jussie Smollett’s injuries sustained during an alleged hate crime attack.
Lee Daniels

“He lost a lot of time,” Wilson added. “It’s hard to sleep at night with this hanging over your head.”

A PR executive said Smollett could indeed be helped by massive media exposure. Cook County Judge James Linn is allowing television cameras into his courtroom for the first time during his sentencing.

Smollett has long embraced activism, said longtime friend Tom Wilson, and longs to return to his charity work
Smollett has long embraced activism, said friend Tom Wilson, and wants to return to his charity work.
Tasia Fountain

“The proliferation of emerging social, digital, media and streaming platforms allows stars to identify and connect with their most important and likeable audiences and reach them directly, rather than just embarking on the typical mainstream media tour left,” said Matthew Hiltzik, a crisis management specialist. “He needs to decide if this current path will allow him to re-engage and regain trust on a broader scale.”



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