Chicago filed a lawsuit against Jussie Smollett on Thursday in a bid to recoup the costs of investigating a racist, anti-gay attack that authorities say was orchestrated by the Empire actor as a publicity stunt, with the city saying - at minimum - that it now wants triple the amount it initially asked Smollett to pay.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports lawyers for the city gave Smollett a week to repay the roughly AUD $180,000 (USD $ 130,000) spent on overtime during the investigation.
A defiant letter sent last week by Smollett's lawyer warned the city against suing him, saying the actor "will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum". The Chicago Police Department calculates that 1,836 hours of overtime were expended in the search for Smollett's attackers, costing taxpayers $130,106.15. "Later, when police confronted him with evidence about his attackers, he still refused to disclose his involvement with planning the attack".
He was charged in February with staging the incident and filing a false police report.
When the City originally requested the payment, they demanded "immediate payment" within seven days, and said at the time that if the 36-year-old actor didn't hand over the cash, the Corporation Counsel would "prosecute you for making a false statement under the Municipal Code of Chicago". According to the court documents, the city is formally requesting over $100,000 in "overtime pay that the City paid exclusively due to Defendant's false statements".
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The lawsuit also asks for $1,000 for each false statement made to police.
At a news conference last month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that the actor should "pay the city back".
In a stunning reversal, the Cook County State Attorney's office announced on March 26 that all 16 felony counts against Smollett were being dropped and the record in the case sealed.
But less than 3 weeks later, prosecutors abruptly dropped the charges after the actor, who starred in the Fox TV series Empire, agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and performed community service.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel denounced the decision as "a whitewash of justice", and others criticized the Cook County state's attorney's office for not requiring an apology and an admission of guilt from Smollett as a condition for tossing the case. Chicago officials previously stated they would be moving forward with the suit against Smollett. The civil suit will likely force the prosecutor's office to unseal the file - at least for parties to the case - and the city will likely get to depose Smollett under oath about the January 29 incident and statements made to police.