Jussie Smollett will be released from jail pending the appeal of his conviction for staging a hoax hate crime against himself and then falsely reporting it to police, an appeals court ruled in a 2-1 decision Wednesday.
The ruling comes one week after the former Empire star was sentenced to five months in an Illinois jail for the hoax, which occurred in 2019.
Smollett’s attorneys argued that the disgraced actor would have finished out his sentence by the time the appeal process had been completed and raised concerns that he could be in danger of physical harm if he remained in Cook County Jail.
The court ruled that Smollett can be released after posting a personal recognizance bond of $150,000. This means he is not required to put down money but agrees to appear in court when required.
It was not immediately clear how soon Smollett would be released, according to the Associated Press.
Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett to 150 days in jail and 30 months of probation last week after a nearly seven-hour hearing. He was ordered to pay restitution of just over $120,000 and a $25,000 criminal fine after being found guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct in December.
Smollett made a false report to Chicago police in January 2019, when he claimed he had been attacked by two men who shouted racial and homophobic slurs at him and wrapped a rope around his neck, prosecutors said. He told police the assault occurred in the middle of a frigid Chicago night while he was out picking up a Subway sandwich.
Police initially investigated the alleged incident, which Smollett claimed happened in the upscale neighborhood of Streeterville, but ultimately shifted focus to probing whether Smollett paid brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo to stage an attack after first investigating the brothers as persons of interest.
Smollett orchestrated the fake hate crime, paying the two men $3,500 to help him, prosecutors said.
Linn called Smollett a charlatan who pretended to be a victim of a hate crime because he wanted attention, calling the hoax “premeditated to the extreme.”
The judge said the evidence against the actor was “overwhelming.”
“You’ve been lying and lying and lying about this case,” Linn said.
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