On Thursday, a second man testified that "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett planned the racist, anti-gay attack on himself in 2019 and paid the man and his brother to act it out. He gave them lines to shout and even pointed out a surveillance camera that would capture the hoax for publicity.
Olabingo Osundairo told the court during Smollett's trial that he wanted them to douse him with gasoline and put a noose around his neck for a payout of $3,500, which was given to them in the form of a check. However, they ended up using bleach instead of gasoline.
His testimony echoed his brother, Abimbola Osundairo, who took the stand on Wednesday.
Olabingo Osundairo said Smollett told him he received hate mail at the TV studio in Chicago “and he had this crazy idea of having two MAGA supporters attack him,” an apparent reference to then-President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” Osundairo believed the plan was to publicize the attack on social media, not to involve police, he said.
“He wanted me to put the noose round his neck and pour the bleach on him,” Osundairo said. They opted for bleach, Osundairo said, because he wasn’t comfortable using gasoline. He said Smollett wanted his brother to do the punching, and that it should look like a struggle and appear the actor fought back.
Smollett, 39, is charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for making what prosecutors say was a false police report about the alleged attack on Jan. 29, 2019 — one count for each time he gave a report — to three different officers. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said if Smollett is convicted he likely would be placed on probation and ordered to perform community service.
Smollett's lawyer attempted to discredit the two men, claiming that they attacked Smollett and then demanded $1 each not to testify that he staged the assault.
Defense attorney Shay Allen suggested the brothers were motivated to accuse Smollett of staging the hoax because of their dislike of the performer — who is gay and Black — and then saw an opportunity to make money.
Abimbola Osundairo said that he and his brother felt indebted to Smollett because he helped with his acting career and that is why they agreed to stage the fake attack.
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